Craft beer class offered at Sonoma State

Humans have had an intimate relationship with beer making for thousands of years.  According to the New York Times, the accidental discovery of making beer may have begun 10,000 years ago. Some have even argued that the need to domesticate and store grain required organization that eventually led to modern civilizations.     

Colonists in North America began a legacy of brewing that continues today. In California the first brewery began in San Francisco, in the late 19th century, brewing a unique style of Steam Beer. 

“Before the Goldrush there were no breweries in California. Steam Beer was a nickname given to beer made in California,” said Mark Carpenter, formerbrewmaster of Anchor Brewing Co. 

According to the Brewers Association website, craft brewers produced 24.5 million barrels in 2015, and noted a elevation of 13 percent in volume and saw an increase in retail dollar value of 16 percent. These types of statistics make it hard not to realize the growth of craft brewing.     

Sonoma County has long been a destination for wine enthusiasts, but many don’t realize that Sonoma County is also known worldwide as a craft beer destination. The county is home to many world class breweries such as Russian River Brewing Co., Moonlight Brew Co., Bear Republic Brewing Co. and New Albion Brewing Co.

According to the Craft Brewer Association website, the majority of Americans live within 10 miles of a craft brewery. 

“America is leading the world in brewing,” Carpenter said, “you used to go to Europe for a days Europeans come here.”

Sonoma State University is offering a 10 week course in Craft Beer Appreciation through the School of Extended & International Education. 

“Anybody can take this class, not just Sonoma State students,” Program Coordinator Herlinda Heras said. “I judge beers around the world,” said Heras. However, she also has a radio show on KSRO known as ‘Brew HaHa.’ 

Students are offered an opportunity when taking the class. “In the first module [students] get to go to a hop farm in Sonoma County,” Heras said.

The three course modules include: History and Styles, The Business of Beer and Brewery Startup. Enrollees are given a Certificate of Craft Beer Appreciation after taking all three modules, “Which can be taken together or individually,” said Heras. “Every class we are tasting beer.” Anyone including non-students that have a desire to learn more about the history, flavors and business of beer making are welcome.

The 10-week course offers beer enthusiasts the opportunity to rub shoulders with many influential beer legends including Mark Carpenter and Bob Brewer from Anchor Brewing Co., Dawn Barkley from New Albion Brewing Co. and Jeremy Marshall and Ron Lindenbusch from Lagunitas Brewing Co. The first female Master Cicerone Nicole Erny, will also offer her expertise into the flavor and styles of beer in the first module. 

Pete Slosberg, former owner of Pete’s Wicked Ale, will offer his insights about the business and crafting beer. 

“You have to brew good beer, but you also have to educate your wholesaler, retailer and consumers about what you’re doing as an industry,” said Slosberg, “You have to educate people to try experiment more, so that people know what to expect.”

Anyone interested in understanding the fundamentals of craft beer or interested in where that industry is going are encouraged to attend. Students interested in economics, sales, the restaurant and bar industry or simply interested in starting a brewery should attend.   

Students interested in the program must be 21-years-old, for more information and visit