Loos American Bar

I travel quite a bit in my line of work. And every now and then I come across a bar to which I know I will return should I visit that particular town or city again. Loos American Bar in Vienna, Austria is one such bar. I first visited Loos in August of 2012. A few weeks ago I was back in Vienna and found myself at Loos once again. Loos has everything – Continue reading Loos American Bar

Buy Me, I’m Local

I'm Local - a six-pack of Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale from Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids, MI
I’m Local – a six-pack of Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale from Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids, MI

I was in my local Kroger grocery store last week. Those of you who are Facebook friends with me will know it as Scary Kroger (yes people have been shot in the parking lot). I pretty much follow the same pattern winding my way through the aisles every time I go there. The last aisle I usually wander down is the one with beer in it. I do not buy much beer from Kroger but always like to check out what they have to offer. Last time I was there I noticed that a number of beers had the words “I’m Local” next to or incorporated into the price tag. Kroger have been using these “I’m Local” designations for quite some time but I never paid much attention to them before. So noticing them got me thinking – what does it mean for a beer (or any Continue reading Buy Me, I’m Local

No Beer For You

Phil Silvers as Seargent Bilko in The Phil Silvers Show
Phil Silvers as Seargent Bilko in The Phil Silvers Show
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Leonard Rossiter as Reginald Perrin in The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin

I am not a huge fan of situational comedies on television but over the years there have been a few that I have really enjoyed. Having lived in both the United Kingdom and the United
States my favorite sitcoms represent a mix from both countries. They include The Phil Silvers Show (CBS 1955- Continue reading No Beer For You

A Beer for Women?

Back in May I came across a story in the USA Today. A new brewing company was up and running in Lakeland, FL. Nothing particularly newsworthy about that. Craft breweries are opening up at a rate of more than one a day. In 2015 alone 617 new craft breweries opened Continue reading A Beer for Women?

Craft Beer in the Queen City

My wife and I spent a few days in Charlotte, NC last week. I was there for the annual conference of the Mid-Continent Regional Science Association. And yes, I gave another talk about the American craft beer industry. This time the topic was the intra-urban clustering of craft breweries. This is work that I am doing with Isabelle Nilsson, a faculty member at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte and Matt Lehnert a doctoral student in the Spatially Integrated Social Science Program at The University of Toledo. Isabelle and I shared the presentation. I provided the background and context for our study while Isabelle presented our methodology, analysis, and findings.

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Queen Charlotte

Charlotte was  founded in 1768 and is named after  Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III of Great Britain and Ireland. As a result it is known as The Queen City. Charlotte, like many cities in the United States, has a burgeoning craft brewing industry. According to the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce there are 28 craft breweries in the Charlotte region, with 16 of those being in the city of Charlotte proper. In addition to these establishments there are 11 new breweries slated for opening, 5 of which will be in the city.

During our first evening in town my wife and I went to our hotel bar for a drink. I asked the bartender what beers he had on draft. “It’s all local beers on draft” was his reply. I must admit I was surprised. The hotel – the Charlotte Sheraton – is part of a multinational chain. I had expected the draft selection to include at least a couple of macro-beers. So kudos to the hotel for supporting the local beer scene in this way. And when I say local I mean local. All of the half dozen draft beers were from breweries in Charlotte.

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NoDa Brewing Company on North Tryon Street
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Dinner came from The Improper Pig food truck

The next evening a group of us met up at the NoDa  Brewing Company on North Tryon Street. The brewery is named after the NoDa, Charlotte’s historic arts and entertainment district. NoDa is short for North Davidson, the Main Street that traverses the district. The brewery on North Tryon is actually NoDa’s second brewery in Charlotte. The original (opened in 2011) is just over a mile away on North Davidson. The Tryon Street location opened in October 2015 and was built as demand for NoDa beer exceeded the capacity of the North Davidson Brewery. I was keen to try NoDa’s Hop, Drop, ‘n Roll, an American-style IPA, that had earned the brewery a gold medal at the 2014 World Beer Cup. Our hotel bar had it on draft but there is nothing like tasting a beer at the source. I was not disappointed. The NoDa brewery does not have a kitchen but a different food truck is there most evenings. When we visited The Improper Pig was on site with a variety
of BBQ offerings.

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Zuri, our Charlotte Brews Cruise guide

My conference ended at lunchtime on the Saturday, leaving us with the afternoon free before heading back to Toledo the next day. We decided to fill the afternoon by going in the Charlotte Brews Cruise. The Brews Cruise is the brainchild of Mark and Trish Lyons and originated  in Asheville, NC in 2006. Since then it has expanded to other cities – Charleston, NC, Denver, CO, Atlanta, GA, Nashville, TN, Chicago, IL, and of course Charlotte. The Charlotte Brews Cruise was established in 2013.

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Our Brews Cruise tour guide, Zuri, pouring samples at Birdsong Brewery

For $49 per head you visit three Charlotte breweries. There are seven breweries that the Brews Cruise have a working relationship with so you could theoretically take a second cruise and visit three entirely different breweries. The three that we visited on our cruise were Birdsong Brewing Company, The Unknown Brewing Company, and Heist Brewery. The departure point for our cruise was the Heist Brewery. There we met the other six people who were going on the cruise with us as well as our cruise tour guide, Zuri. We all then jumped into a twelve-seater van and headed off to Birdsong. When we go there our tour guide, Zuri, took us to the production area of the brewery and provided us with a description of the brewing process. As he did so he weaved in information about the brewery and its founders, Chris and Tara Goulet. As Zuri was talking he had a pitcher on hand that contained one of Birdsong’s brews. Sample glasses were 4oz but the pitcher contained enough beer for second servings. At Birdsong we sampled four different brews.

Left to Right (above) – Birdsong, Unknown, and Heist Breweries

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Our tour group at Heist Brewery

After Birdsong we went to The Unknown Brewing Company and, after that, Heist Brewery where we were again provided with generous samples while Zuri regaled us with stories of the breweries and their owners. The Brews Cruise was highly enjoyable. It was well-organized and informative – overall a great way to spend three to four hours on a Saturday afternoon.

Rebels, Renegades, and Revolutionaries

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Huggy Rao

 

I’ve been reading quite a lot of the writings of Huggy Rao recently. Huggy (or Hayagreeva to give him his Sunday name) is the Atholl McBean Professor of Organizational Continue reading Rebels, Renegades, and Revolutionaries

Eight Beer Bottles Sitting On A Sill

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My view of University Hall from my office

I have two windows in my office at The University of Toledo, one of which overlooks the university’s Centennial Mall. From that window I can watch students and faculty crisis-cross the mall as they move from one Continue reading Eight Beer Bottles Sitting On A Sill

The Meaning of Craft?

The terms craft beer and craft brewery are common parlance when talking about the modern-day American beer industry. Yet despite their common use and seemingly universal acceptance the meaning of the term craft is one that is often discussed and debated.  I’d like Continue reading The Meaning of Craft?

The Beer Professor One Year On

In April of 2015 I announced that I was going to start a beer blog under the guise of The Beer Professor. For a couple of years I had been posting daily beer facts on my Facebook page and had also published a couple of articles on the American craft beer industry in Continue reading The Beer Professor One Year On

Back to School at Beer University

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Terra State Community College in Fremont, OH are exploring the possibility of developing a Certificate Program focused on brewing

Back in February I participated in a meeting at Terra State Community College. Terra State is located about forty miles southeast of Toledo, OH just outside the town of Fremont, OH. Terra State are interested in developing a curriculum for a Certificate Program around the topic of beer and brewing. I was invited to attend the meeting by Ellen Wardzala who is Associate Dean of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) at Terra State. In addition to Ellen there were three other Terra State administrators in attendance. Also there was Mike Roder, the Founder of Catawba Island Brewing Company in Port Clinton, OH.

Prior to the meeting I did my homework on what other colleges and universities across the country are providing with respect to education in the area of beer and brewing. It is apparent that an increasing number of community colleges and universities are offering programs with such a focus. The website of The Brewers Association lists fifteen university-affiliated brewing programs in the United States and Canada, although a more extensive search of the Internet suggests that this list is not comprehensive.

Several types of brewing programs are offered by colleges and universities. These range from individual stand-alone courses, to certificate programs, to fully-fledged undergraduate degree programs. Terra State’s interest lies in exploring the possibility of offering a certificate program. Certificate Programs in many different areas of study are increasingly common at American universities and allow students to acquire basic knowledge of and expertise in an area of study. My own department at the University of Toledo offers one in Geographic Information Science and Applied Geographics. They typically require the successful completion of four or five courses. Certificate programs focused on beer and brewing at American colleges and universities appear to focus in one of two areas – the science of brewing or the business side of the industry.

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Central Washinton University’s Craft Brewing Certificate focuses in the scientific side of brewing

The certificate program at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, WA is a four-course (ten weeks per course) sixteen-credit program that focuses on the science of brewing. The four courses that comprise the certificate are Principles and Biochemistry of Brewing, Topics and Strategy in the Craft Brewing Industry, Brew Process Technology, and Brewing Microbology. The program is designed for current craft brewing professionals who are interested in further developing their skills and individuals working in other professions who may be interested in a career change and entering the world of commercial craft brewing.

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Portland State’s Craft Brewing Certificate program focuses on the business side of the industry

In contrast, Portland State University in Portland, OR offers a certificate program that focuses on the business side of the craft brewing industry. Again, this is a four-course program with students being required to complete courses in Basic Business for Craft Beverage and Craft Beverage Business Management. Students then have to take two of the following three courses – Strategic Craft Beverage Marketing, Finance and Accounting for the Craft Brewery, and Craft Beverage Distribution. All courses are only offered online with each one taking four to five weeks to complete. The target audience are home brewers who might be interested in commercializing their hobby as well as industry professionals who wish to advance their knowledge of the business aspects of the industry. While brewing is emphasized in the courses many of the principles taught can be applied to operating and running distilleries and cideries.

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Getting hands-on experience is a critical part of a brewer’s training.

While knowledge attained in a formal classroom setting can be very useful it is only a piece of the training that someone working in (or hoping to work in) the craft brewing industry may find beneficial. The other piece is hands-on-experience and that can come in a variety of forms including an internship, job shadowing, and on-the-job training. Many of the courses of study offered  by professional brewing-focused organizations are hybrid in nature, combining theoretical knowledge with practical experience. The American Brewers Guild (ABG) is one such organization that offers a variety of brewing-focused courses. These include courses in Brewing Science for the Advanced  Homebrewer, Intensive Brewing Science and Engineering, and Lab Practices for the Small Brewery. Some of these courses of study comprise a combination of formal  instruction and practical training. For example the Guild’s twenty-eight week Craftbrewers’ Apprenticeship Program requires twenty-five weeks of formal instruction (via distance learning), one week at a working brewery, and five weeks of on-site practical training at another working brewery.

But spending five weeks in a brewery is not just about getting practical training. It is also acquiring what is referred to as tacit knowledge. Social scientists who study knowledge often make the distinction between codified and tacit knowledge and to to be a successful brewer both are critical. Codified knowledge is that which can be attained from reading a textbook, referring to an instruction manual, listening to a lecture etc. An example of utilizing codified knowledge would be baking a cake using the recipe in a cookbook. However give two people, a novice and a professional chef, the same recipe and chances are the dish produced by the chef will be superior. The difference in outcomes can be attributed to the chef’s tacit knowledge. Tacit knowledge are the skills, ideas, and experiences that the chef has acquired over many years of practicing his or her profession. He or she carries this knowledge in his or her head and because it is experiential in nature it cannot be easily shared with and transferred to another individual. It is knowledge that is  difficult to articulate. In a very informative paper Thomas Thurnell-Reed of Coventry University interviewed craft brewers in England. It is clear from these interviews that tacit knowledge is a critical part of the brewers’ knowledge base. Several brewers spoke of the value of spending time in other breweries and seeing how things are done. As noted by Thurnell-Reed “craft skills often draw on tacit knowledge which is often easier to demonstrate than it is to explain and describe verbally” and “being around a working brewery and seeing how things ‘get done’ thus appeals to a sense of tacit knowledge.”

Being a successful commercial craft brewer requires the command and application of wide range of diverse knowledge. Some of that knowledge can be attained from reading, some via the process of formal instruction, and some through on-the-job experience. This knowledge is both codified and tacit in nature. Universities and community colleges can play an important part in helping commercial craft brewers, both current and aspirational, improve their knowledge base, particularly with respect to the scientific and business sides of the brewing industry. This is an emerging student market for institutions of higher education. As such it has the potential to get saturated as more and more colleges and universities recognize and develop curriculum to meet what is surely to be a growing demand. However those colleges and universities that already have developed, or are in the process of developing, their curriculums can get ahead of the pack. And if they provide a high quality product they can establish their reputations and thereby position themselves to be successful even as the market becomes increasingly crowded. So kudos to Terra State Community College for taking the initiative in northwest Ohio.

With respect to the meeting that was held at Terra State I suggested that a valuable next step might be to bring together some local craft brewers in a focus focus group setting and pick their brains with respect to what type of curriculum (both in terms of content and format) might be useful to the craft brewing industry. I look forward to seeing the outcomes of these focus groups.

Further Reading

Thurnell-Read, Thomas. 2014. Craft, tangibility and affect at work ina microbrewery. Emotion, Space and Society, Volume 13, pages 46-54.