Craft Brewing Program takes skills to next level

photo of a glass of craft beerChad Marley enjoyed brewing beer at home. His first batch, a brown ale, turned out pretty well, he said. But when he saw an opportunity to take his new-found hobby to the next level, he seized the opportunity.

Marley, Laramie County Community College’s chief information officer, recently completed the Craft Brewing Program through the college. The Craft Brewing Program is designed to prepare students for employment in the craft brewing industry, as well as to meet the needs of those who want to advance their skills in craft brewing. Graduates may find jobs as assistant brewers in small breweries, brew pubs and larger production facilities.

Prior to taking the course, Marley’s home brews were made using an extract kit, which are designed for beginning and intermediate brewers, cloning beers he enjoyed. 

“It’s pretty hard to mess up when you’re using an extract kit,” he said. 

In order to exercise more control over the final product, however, Marley knew he needed to delve into all-grain brewing, the way most professionals brew beer. 

“I hadn’t done that before, and the Crafting Brewing Program was going to teach me how to do that,” Marley said. 

The program covers all aspects of the brewing process, from selecting quality ingredients to using standard brewing equipment and proper sanitation. Students learn how to develop and execute recipes for craft brews, produce beer at different scales from small pilot batches to commercial volumes, and they also learn about the operations of a craft brewery, from planning and marketing to ordering and inventory.

Offered fully online, the program includes a remote internship requirement, meaning students brew beer in an established brewery. For Marley, his internship took place at Timnath Beerwerks in Timnath, Colorado. Not wanting to clone any of the beers already being poured at the brewery, Marley worked with the head brewer to scale an original recipe to their system. His extra special bitter, which is essentially an English pale ale, is now being sold at the brewery as “The Intern” in two forms: one poured with CO2 and a nitro pour. The nitro pour has a smoother, creamier texture. 

“It’s the exact same beer, just different gas, and different flavors because of the gas,” Marley said. “(My preference) depends on the day, but I lean more toward the CO2.”