SLU’s Brewing Science Program


Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis University

This fall, SLU’s School for Professional Studies introduced the Brewing Science and Operations Certificate program, a one-of-a-kind program that teaches students about the ins and outs of beer production. 

The University is partnered with the St. Louis Brewers Heritage Foundation to design a special structure for the program. It is made up of six courses that focus on educating students about all aspects of the brewing process including: Brewing Essentials, Brewing and Beer Styles, Conditioning/Packaging and Distribution, Biochemistry of Brewing, Flavor/Quality Control and Sensory Evaluation and Brewery Operations and Accounting. 

Faculty includes industry veterans and professional brewers from around the St. Louis Area. The students learn about brewing their own beer and the details of running a brewery. Part of what makes this program unique is the support from local breweries in the St. Louis area. 

According to Mitch Turner, a Brewing Science program faculty member and the Sales Director of the Beer, Wine and Craft Spirits Portfolio at Major Brands, this program is truly unlike any other.

“There has never been a program like this, especially not in St. Louis and really not across the nation,” said Turner. “If you were ever interested in making beer, either recreationally or professionally, this is the place to start. Few programs have this type of local support and allow this kind of interaction [with local breweries].”

During the first course, which was taught by Turner, the main project required each student to brew their own batch of beer. Turner said that the enthusiasm and engagement from students made the class extra special for him. 

“We would get very in depth about all types of different topics, including brewing operations to discussions about why a brewer might prefer cans versus bottles,” said Turner. 

The brewing industry is a large part of the St. Louis economy, with over 70 breweries in the larger St. Louis Metro area alone, according to Troika Brodsky, the director of the program.  Many of these breweries work with the program by allowing students to tour their facilities and learn a little about what makes them successful. As part of the class, students have visited St. Louis breweries like Urban Chestnut, 4 Hands, BrewHub Tap Room, Steampunk Brewery, AB-InBev and Schlafly, just to name a few. 

The program’s connection to the St. Louis brewing market goes far beyond tours as well. The faculty and advisory board of the program is made up of professionals who have careers in the brewing industry, with representation from Anheuser-Busch, Third Wheel Brewing, Schlafly Beer, Square One Brewery & Distillery, Second Shift Brewing and Major Brands Distributing. This kind of faculty experience and guidance for students is a part of what makes the program so strong, Turner says.  

The program is still in its infancy, but, according to Turner, it is growing in size and scope every day. 

“There are small brewers and big brewers involved, and that list is expanding weekly,” Turner said.

The new Brewing Science and Operations program offers students an opportunity to obtain a highly useful certification, one that could help them find jobs all over the United States. 

“There are roughly 8,000 breweries in the U.S. and around 1000 being added each year—many are smaller local pubs, tasting rooms and breweries,” said Turner, “There is a high demand for people in this industry and there are not a lot of programs partnering with breweries like this one. There are so many different jobs and ways to get involved in this industry. There is a strong need for proficient technical workers in this industry, and this certificate provides this.” 

The programs first cohort just finished their first class this fall, with the second cohort beginning in the spring. Turner said that this program is certain to grow, and that there is a large and diverse group of students that are benefitting from the unique information and experience they gain from it. 

“For some students it’s their first time making beer, others are just brushing up. Some are established homebrewers,” said Turner. “Some people just want to learn about it and lots of others want to open a new brewery or pub. But here, you can get this certificate and use it to do whatever you want to do in this industry.”