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New Beer School Courses Created to Help Existing Breweries Succeed

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Brewery operation requires knowledge of everything from regulatory requirements and intellectual property to financing and accounting. Three years after launching the online Business of Craft Beer Certificate Program, UVM is introducing a series of short courses to meet the growing demand for professional development opportunities for staff in existing breweries.

UVM Continuing and Distance Education is offering in 2019 a variety of four-week, online courses that will be taught by seasoned professionals in the craft beer industry.

Courses include:


“Trial and error can be costly for a small brewery owner and our goal is to provide professional development opportunities in an easy-to-access, affordable and online format,” says UVM Business of Craft Beer program director Greg Dunkling.

“The short courses—what we’re calling Beer School—serve as continuing education for existing breweries. While there will be some courses offered for brewery start-ups, most of our focus in the short courses will be offering professional development for staff in operating breweries.”

Tackling Real Life Challenges Facing Breweries Today

The UVM beer program is also establishing a national advisory board that will include brewery owners. Dunkling says the goal of the advisory board is for UVM to gain advice regarding the business challenges breweries face and to generate ideas for courses to help build knowledge and skills. Once the advisory board is up and running, it will help UVM identify new topics for additional Beer School short courses.

“Brewery staff often wear many hats but aren’t necessarily proficient in all areas,” Dunkling says. “Our Beer School provides relevant and in-depth education to help build their knowledge of social media, brewery finance, taproom management, and other topics.”

Professional Development for Brewery Staff

David Nyhan, an experienced taproom and operations manager who is teaching the Brewpub/Taproom and Restaurant Planning course, says professional development opportunities for breweries is essential in today’s competitive market. “The more education and knowledge you can offer, the better,” he says. “It can help with your brewery’s long-term growth and sustainability in the industry.”

Marketing and sales are becoming a greater focus for most breweries as well, Dunkling says. While marketing and sales are often secondary to buying equipment, building a facility, and hiring staff when a brewery is in the start-up phase, they are critical to a brewery’s success.

“While the craft beer industry continues to grow—there were 980 new breweries last year alone—there is growing competition. There is limited shelf space in any store and on tap handles in bars and restaurants. Breweries must be firing on all cylinders to remain competitive today,” Dunkling says.

“Conferences and guild sponsored-workshops are helpful, yet these tend to focus on the technical side of brewing or are typically only an hour or two in length. There is only so much one can cover or take away from such a format. In discussions with brewery staff, we felt there was a need for more in-depth professional development programming.”

Listen to Our Podcast About Maximizing Brewery Taproom Success

Listen to Kary Shumway, instructor of upcoming Maximizing Taproom Sales and David Nhyan on UVM’s Business of Craft Beer podcast, Brewery Taprooms: Risks and Rewards

Learn more about the UVM Business of Craft Beer