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Brewery Certificate Helps Retired Veteran Consider a Career in Craft Beer

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Reese Madsen’s first taste of high-quality craft beer was in Seattle in 1992.

Redhook Brewery, a mainstay in the Pacific Northwest since the early 1980s, was a vendor at a local festival that Madsen visited one Sunday afternoon. After living in Brussels, Belgium, Madsen knew what good beer tasted like, favoring Belgian beers over the diluted pale lagers readily available of his early 20s.

But after taking one sip of a Red Hook ESB, it changed Madsen’s outlook on craft beer for good.

“I want flavor, and I want depth and aroma,” Madsen says. “That day in Seattle was the first time I had really good craft beer.”

A Brewery Certificate That Teaches the Business Side of Brewing

Madsen, who now lives in University Park, Maryland, recently completed the UVM Business of Craft Beer program, an eight-week, online brewery certificate taught by industry experts representing small and large breweries, distributors, and consultants.

Madsen, a homebrewer, spent 24 years in the U.S. Coast Guard and recently retired after 14 years in the U.S. Department of Defense.

“I’ve been homebrewing for the past five or six years. I’ve been trying to improve my technique, so I was looking for a program or course. When I saw that UVM accepted VA education benefits, it was a no brainer,” he says. “I’m more of a beer enthusiast and would like to work in a brewery. Maybe I’ll make it my third career.”

The catalyst for Madsen wanting to learn more about the business and operations side of craft beer happened after visiting the North Bend Ale Trail in Oregon.

“There were breweries big and small, new and old, and it was great to see. They all got along, they all helped each other,” he says. “That same spirit was in the UVM program. Everyone supports each other. There’s a lot of people who make beer and do it well, and UVM offers a great array of presenters and faculty.”

What kind of beer does Madsen like most? He considers himself more of a traditionalist, steering toward Czech and British beers.

“I appreciate the American twist on things, and I still enjoy Belgian beers,” he says. “But no one has yet replaced that Red Hook ESB as the best craft beer I’ve ever had.”

Learn more about the UVM Business of Craft Beer program