Central Washington University opens coveted craft brewing class to all students

ELLENSBURG, Wash. — Formerly, Central Washington University offered its craft brewing courses exclusively to students in the College of the Sciences (COTS). That’s about to change as the university announced Wednesday that the course will become available to all students in the Fall.

Craft breweries have become synonymous with the Pacific Northwest, touting regionally-specific ingredients and years of tradition to create beverages with robust flavor profiles. At Central Washington University, science students have studied the intricacies of craft brewing in a variety of classes unique to the school. Now, school officials are expanding eligibility to allow students from all different major to participate.

The Craft Brewing (CRBW) program at Central Washington University is the only four-year craft brewing degree program on the West Coast, according to school officials. To make the course more accessible, school officials dropped the Physics requirement and replaced certain degree requirements with more specific courses like ‘Beer Styles of the World.’

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CRBW instructor Eric Foss has one goal in mind: Helping his students break into this competitive industry.

“Our main goal is to help biologists, chemists, and nutritionists find jobs in the industry,” Foss said. “But we also want to work with business majors and marketing people. We think the classes are a good fit for hospitality and tourism majors, too, because they can combine their brewing knowledge with their business backgrounds.”

These courses were introduced as part of a two-year certificate program in 2009, which expanded to a full-fledged, four-year program in 2016. It boasts excellent job placement rates due to strong connections with breweries throughout the nation. Participation in the program has led to great success for many graduates, who entered the job field as brewmasters, hops research scientists, and quality control technicians.

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CRBW Director Eric Graham deploys an experiential teaching style that provides a hands-on approach for his students.

“That’s what our program is all about — the hands-on component of brewing,” Graham said. “You can get a brewing certificate online, but you’re not getting the full picture. We believe students need to be in the lab, doing fermentation experiments and learning about microbiology and biochemistry. We also show them first-hand all the systems the breweries are using every day.”

For more information about the program, you can visit cwu.edu/craft-brewing or email craftbrewing@cwu.edu.

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