A new industry is growing in the region and South Puget Sound Community College is leading the way with an innovative Associate in Applied Science degree, the Craft Brewing & Distilling Program. The inaugural fall 2018 class will launch with a class of 30 students. “We hope to make brewing and distilling a significant component of the regional economy,” says Dr. Timothy Stokes, SPSCC president. “Our vision is that brewing and distilling will become what the wine industry has become for the area around Walla Walla.”
The college’s new Director of Craft Brewing and Distilling, Frank Addeo, is here to make sure that is exactly what happens. He arrived in March and has met individually with many of the local head-brewers to learn about the community. Though students may come from around the country, it is the local industry and agricultural community that will support them.
“The Craft Brewing program is poised to be a center of excellence for craft beverages that will attract experienced and aspiring professionals alike,” Addeo says. “We will offer not only instruction to our students, but address our neighbors’ needs as well.” As part of their mission, the college utilizes industry advisory boards to guide their curriculum. This board helps connect the program to the community and to any industry fluctuations.
Addeo is standing at the future site of Craft District, LLC, which will lease the building to SPSCC. The ground has yet to be broken – but the vision is clear. “There will be classrooms over in this section,”Addeo says, his arm sweeping across a section of hillside, “and directly below that, our laboratory.” Addeo’s eyes light up when discussing the laboratory.
Quality assurance, unheard of in the early, rowdy days of craft brewing, hinges on good science. “Some brewers may contract out five years on renewables that then spend two years refrigerated,” Addeo explains. “How many more hops need to be added for the same bittering outcome? 20 percent? More? We can help answer some of those questions.”
Val Sundby-Thorp, dean of social science and business at SPSCC, also anticipates the relationship with Craft District, LLC and other industry partners as having a huge impact on the program. “We are really excited because it lets our student learn right on site,” says Sundby-Thorp. “By having the industry there, as part of the education, it acts as a full immersion that is not currently available with fermentation science programs.”
Until the completion of the facility in fall 2019, classes will be held at SPSCC’s Olympia Campus.
Addeo recognizes the new brewery construction by Craft District, LLC as a novel opportunity that fits perfectly with the program’s launch, “We would like to incorporate this process into the curriculum of first-year students so that they are exposed to the intricacies of creating a production facility from the ground up.” It is an amazing situation, one that the college is taking full advantage of. “Good planning is greatly measured by familiarity with legal and safety regulations,” says Addeo, “but another training opportunity is to demonstrate the value of a good plan’s nimbleness in adapting to challenges that present themselves in the development process.”
As every business owner knows, flexibility is key to success. In this instance, students will have the chance to learn from professionals as they navigate the construction process. “We intend to make the most of this opportunity,” says Addeo, “from which we will draw material for our business, regulatory, and production technology courses offered in students’ first year of studies.”
The program’s second year will focus on applied learning experiences and packaging and distribution classes. “The curriculum also lets student explore different aspects of the industry,” explains Sundby-Thorp, “to explore back of house and recipes and production – to understand what is most interesting to them and where they want to grow their career.”
Additionally, there will be an online component to allow students distance learning with weekend commitments. Even after the building is completed, expect an emphasis on hands-on training in the field.
“We’ll be taking students to places like Yakima to see hops, up to distilleries, get them out in the field experiencing things as well as in the classroom.” says Addeo. “And because we are focusing on all facets, from product development, sales distribution, business development, lab analysis, and agricultural responsibilities, student will be positioned ideally to move into all of those areas.”
Applications for the 2018-19 Craft Brewing and Distilling program will be accepted through July 1, 2018.
After acceptance to the Craft Brewing and Distilling program, students can apply for six new SPSCC Foundation scholarships in the fall quarter. Financial aid and VA funding is also accepted for this program.