Craft beer program premieres next month

A sommelier and a cicerone. Two different professions, yet their goals are the same: to provide expertise to the consumer about their respective beverage—wine for the sommelier and beer for the cicerone. Those looking to break into the beer business need look no further, as Sonoma State University School of Extended Education has launched a shiny and new Craft Beer Appreciation Certificate Program. 

The certificate program will give students an in-depth understanding of beer brewing, distribution and business and beer appreciation, as well as provide participants with professional credibility and good networking. 

What’s more is class will be held at one of Sonoma’s favorite breweries, Lagunitas, and instructed by some of the biggest names in the business. 

“Brewfessor” Jay Brooks, one of the program coordinators, has been writing about beer for over 20 years and has judged beer competitions on five continents. 

Joining him is Ron Lindenbusch, who has been with Lagunitas Brewery since the beginning. Both Brooks and Lindenbusch have worked in beer retail before entering their current positions, making them well-versed and more than qualified to talk about beer. 

Besides Brooks and Lindenbusch, program participants will also learn from 40 different guest speakers coming in from New Albion, the Brewer’s Association, Anchor Brewing Co. and more. 

One undeniable fact that will act as a basis for the class is the often underestimated complexity of beer. 

“I find it challenging to educate people properly—to let them know what it is they’re drinking. It’s intimidating,” said Lindenbush. “The more people know about what they’re drinking, the more they’ll find what they like, and they won’t slide into that Coors Light habit.”

The full Craft Beer Appreciation course is a 12-week program that lasts 36 hours beginning Feb. 18 through May 13. At $1,495, it is less expensive than most certificate programs—which is great news for hopeful beer business students. 

The program will be organized in three sections: beer brewing, the business of beer (regulation and license) and appreciation of beer, including all aspects of sensory analysis. 

Program coordinators have some key topics in mind that they will incorporate into the lessons, such as the significance of glassware, pH levels, and the differences and difficulties found in home versus commercial brewing. 

However, with spring 2015 as the program’s maiden voyage, coordinators are very keen to implement other subjects of student interest. And what better place to learn about beer than a taproom? 

The Taproom & Beer Sanctuary at Lagunitas Brewing Company will be the classroom for all craft beer pupils. 

“Lagunitas has had this space for a lot of years, and it just seemed like the natural fit for the subject. It’s a fun topic, you want to be in a fun place,” said “Brewfessor” Brooks.

The Craft Beer Appreciation Certificate has attracted beer enthusiasts from all over Northern California, a region known for loving craft beer. 

But it’s not just the brewing that has people interested. Dean Brightman from Hercules is looking into a career transition to beer marketing. 

“I’ve been a fan of craft beer ever since I’ve been drinking,” Brightman said. “I’m taking the class to expand my knowledge, and makes some contacts. Hopefully as a result, I’m able to write [a] beer blog myself, and see if I can get a job in the industry in some marketing capacity.”

For students interested in enrolling, they can register online or stop by the School of Extended Education, located at Stevenson 1012. 

The popular new certificate is expected to reach class capacity in its first semester.