Craft brewing has experienced exponential growth during the last two decades and in Michigan contributes around $2 billion and thousands of jobs to the economy. West Michigan has developed a strong reputation for the craft, and as the site of the nation's first higher ed program in sustainable craft brewing, Kalamazoo is becoming an education destination for this rapidly growing employment and entrepreneurial phenomenon.
Launched in 2015 by Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo Valley Community College, the Sustainable Brewing major offers many options for completion, including a two-plus-two plan that allows you to earn an associate's degree at KVCC, then move on to a bachelor's degree that combines industry art, science, and business with WMU's national reputation in sustainability.
There are two possible tracks in the Sustainable Brewing major. Both include substantial training in sustainability, environmental science, and food and beverage systems.
- Brewing track—This rigorous science curriculum was developed with input from an external advisory board that includes members from some of Michigan's top breweries. The program includes coursework in chemistry, general biology, microbiology and fermentation to provide students with advanced training in the science behind good brewing.
- Brewing Operations track—This curriculum is focused more on the business side of the industry and includes coursework in accounting, sales, marketing and business operations. It is intended to train students for future careers as business owners or managers.
Beyond the classroom
The KVCC-WMU sustainable brewing program stresses hands-on learning. As a student in this program, you will venture beyond the traditional classroom to gain an understanding of every facet of the industry.
You will learn about the brewing process in a teaching brewery at KVCC outfitted with the comprehensive functionality of industry equipment and facilities that incorporate sustainable brewing practices.
You will also find ample internship and hands-on learning opportunities in West Michigan, which has one of the country's highest per-capita densities of craft breweries.
After you graduate
Among the places that would hire someone with a degree in sustainable brewing are:
- Beverage distributors
- Brewpub restaurants
- Food packaging companies
- Government and nonprofit agencies related to food, beverage and sustainability
- Hops farms
- Malting houses
Where is this program offered?
- Kalamazoo—joint program between KVCC and WMU