Chair, KPU Brewing and Brewery Operations
Established by the government of British Columbia in 1981, Kwantlen, now Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) offers bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, diplomas, certificates and citations in more than 120 programs, one of them being KPU’s Diploma course – Brewing and Brewery Operations program. The program combines building a solid foundation in brewing science with hands-on practical learning in their state-of-the-art, two-hectoliter pilot brewery located on campus. KPU’s Brewing and Brewery Operations program is the only brewing diploma of its kind in BC and the first brewing program in Canada to be recognized by the Master Brewers Association.
Sneha Nair, BW Correspondent in conversation with Alek Egi, chair, KPU Brewing and Brewery Operations
How old is KPU’s Brewing and Brewery Operations Diploma?
Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s (KPU) Brewing and Brewery Operations Diploma program started in September 2014 and will celebrate its fifth anniversary in 2019.
Based in beautiful British Columbia (BC), Canada, our 4,500 square foot teaching brewery is based on KPU’s Langley campus — near some of the top craft beer markets in North America, including Vancouver, BC; Seattle, Washington; and Portland, Oregon.
What sets KPU’s Brewing Diploma apart from the rest?
The KPU Brewing Diploma program is the only one of its kind in British Columbia and the first and only institution in Canada recognized by the Master Brewers Association of the Americas (MBAA) for a standard of excellence in brewing education.
What sets KPU’s Brewing Diploma apart is the hands-on experience our students receive in our state-of-the-art teaching brewery and science labs, as well as the quality of our instructors.
Brewing chemistry and microbiology are a strong focus of the KPU program, along with recipe development, sensory analysis, quality control, packaging, safety, and sales and marketing.
Our Brewing instructors have over 100 years of combined experience and expertise in all aspects of the industry and include the first female brewmaster in North America and the Executive Director of the BC Craft Brewers Guild.
Graduates receive university credit for their Brewing Diploma, which means they can apply those credits to other programs at KPU or another university, if they wanted to pursue a degree in another discipline, such as Business or Marketing, for example.
Talk to us about the curriculum in depth? How regularly is it modified to keep up with changing trends in craft beer?
The three major areas in KPU’s Brewing Diploma program are science, production and business.
The curriculum involves all aspects of brewing science, including Brewing Chemistry, Microbiology, Sensory Evaluation, Equipment and Technology, and Brewing Calculation. Practical brewing courses have a strong emphasis on hands-on experience and include an in-depth laboratory component. Students learn all aspects of brewing production, as well as Introduction and Advanced Beer Finishing and Packaging.
Business courses are designed to give our students a strong foundation in the areas of professional communication, problem solving, business ethics, sales and marketing, and brewery management so they can run their own breweries or step into senior roles.
All of the Brewing faculty and staff regularly meet to discuss curriculum changes and updates. The faculty also holds regular Advisory Committee meetings to consult with local brewers and members of the BC Craft Brewers Guild for updates on any changes and specific needs in the industry that we can incorporate into our program.
KPU’s MBAA recognition required an in-depth review of our Brewing curriculum, teaching facilities, brewing equipment, library resources, individual instructor Curriculum Vitaes, and much more. The goal of the MBAA was to distinguish which schools are offering the highest standard of education in brewing.
As well, every five years all of Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s programs go through regular program reviews to ensure the content is current and relevant.
How do you predict the growth of craft beer industry in the years to come? Do you believe the industry has reached its peak?
The KPU Brewing and Brewery Operations Diploma program was created in consultation with local breweries and the BC Craft Brewers Guild in response to the need for educated brewers with an overall understanding of the brewing process and industry.
With the explosive growth of the craft beer industry around the world continuing to expand, the demand for brewers with an education not only in brewing but also in brewing sciences, quality control, beer sensory analysis, recipe development, safety, business, and marketing continues to rise.
Talk to us about KPU’s scholarship facilities for this particular diploma?
Currently, there are nine scholarships available specifically for Brewing students. As well, students can apply for numerous other scholarships and bursaries offered through the university.
KPU Brewing has accepted international applications from the start of the program and we’ve welcomed students from around the world, including the US, Brazil, Korea, Switzerland, Italy and India.
KPU has a designated International office with advisors from across the globe to help guide international students with application requirements, housing options, financing and more.
Could you briefly give us some input into the success of the Brewing and Brewery Operations Diploma program?
The success of the KPU Brewing and Brewery Operations Diploma is due to the quality of our curriculum combined with the hands-on training our students receive. We regularly consult with industry and our Brewing Advisory Committee, which is made up of local brewers and brewery owners, to stay on top of brewing trends and ensure our students are up-to-date on all facets of beer production.
Our grads have an employment rate of over 90% and have gone on to win numerous esteemed awards, including multiple BC Beer Awards and Canadian Brewing Awards, as well as gold at the 2018 World Beer Cup (alum Dan Marriette, Ravens Brewing). Current students have also won two BC Beer Awards (2018 and 2017) and gold, silver and bronze medals in the 2017 and 2018 (respectively) US Open College Beer Championship awards.
KPU’s Brewing Operation program teaches students critical skills and provides training with brewing equipment and technologies, recipe formulation, sensory evaluation, brewing chemistry and microbiology, production and packaging, sales and promotion, and management and supervisory skills. Upon graduating, students will earn their university diploma and credits.