Online brewing course recommendation
I am tossing up between doing either:
- the World Brewing Academy Web-based Concise Course in Brewing Technology at the Siebel Institute of Technology (US$2925), or
- the General Certificate in Brewing and Packaging at UC Davis Extension (US$1700)
These are both on-line courses; since I am in Australia, I have no other short-term option. I would love to hear the opinions of anyone who knows about either and/or both of these courses as to which they would recommend; what was good, what was bad; were they value for money; feedback heard from others; etc.
I am after as much bang-for-your-buck as possible, but more importantly, I am looking for a course which will teach me as much of the most important information about brewing as possible.
Thanks, fire away...
There are two main schools of thought on this.
1) Take these expensive, intensive brewing courses (and with that choice, I'd go with the UC Davis course, excellent school and it's cheaper!).
2) Learn by doing: homebrew extensively, apprentice at a brewery, be a hands-on kind of guy.
A fellow brewer hipped me to a third way of going: Learn by doing as in choice 2, while also taking University-level courses in microbiology and/or chemistry. We both brewed beer in a college town, and he pointed out to me that it was a hell of a lot cheaper to study microbiology at the local university than it was to take the course of study at Seibel, UCDavis, or Weinstephan. The coursework included hands-on lab experience, and as he pointed out, he was covering all the necessary bases. Meanwhile, he was also working full-time for a very successful microbrewery, gaining tons of practical experience.
Thanks, Tim. The micro courses sound like a good idea.
Unrelated to Tim's answer, I should include that I already have a B. Eng (Chem) (which included some microbiology units), so the engineering/process/technical issues are not a worry for me - it's the next level of brewing-process-specific training that I need. Still, I am sure my micro knowledge (at the least) will need revving up.
I will also have full access to a brewery and senior brewer come Oct/Nov, so I am looking for kick-start theoretical training. Hence my interest in the intensive online courses which begin later this month...
I am also considering the alternative of spending only a portion of the course fee on a library of the best textbooks available and self-studying the theory for 3 months???
In view of your existing qualifications, I would be tempted just to buy a couple of decent brewing books, Hough, Briggs, Stevens & Young for example, and use these instead of either of these courses. I don't know what the Siebel course is like, but the General certificate is fairly basic, and really, whilst a good introduction, will not help you fault find in future adeqautely. If you want to go for a more suitable qualification, I suggest the Institute & Guild of Brewing Associate member exam. This is the theoretical level, and quite detailed at that too, which you are required to have held for at least two years prior to taking the Diploma examinations.
These exams will not be cheap either, but if you are not bothered about professional qualifications, at least perhaps take the time out to do the studying for them. One possiblity, not cheap admittedly though, is to attend the International course run in the UK in September.
Also check out the IGB web site for the Australia and Pacific section. They may be running some training courses themselves which could be useful. I don't know the A & P section web address, but you could try contacting through the main IGB site, www.igb.org.uk
Hope this helps
Re my previous response. I am not knocking the General Certificate, far from it as one of the target groups when the course was devised by the IGB was the micro brewing industry.
Re the cost, I wonder if UC Davis cover more than the basic sourse content. I would not be surprised if they did.
Another advantage of taking a course is that you would, I am sure be able to ask the tutors or other people in you study group what works well for them. This is of course particularly relevant if you were to attend some sort of residential course.
I've taken the General Certificate course from UC-Davis and agree with Dick that it is pretty much an basic, introduction level course. I've been brewing for 8 years now and while I really didn't learn anything new, the course helped me put all of my knowledge into prespective and if this makes sense, "better organize" what I have learned already from my brewing career. Dick is also right about the UC course going more in depth than just learning was is required to pass the exam, but not much. I think taking this course and passing the exam won't prepare you to walk into a brewery and start making beer, but it will give you a solid foundation to build upon. I would recomend the course to anyone, but with your education I think you would get more out of the books Dick mentioned.
I would also second the books/ reading approach. Not having taken either of the 2 onlne courses you mentioned, I can't comment on them. But I did study on my own for the IGB asssociate membership exam and had a very postive experience. Obviously, there's no replacing hands-on experience, but the assoc membership exam is a good theoretical overview that would give you a solid, brewing-specific base (there are also good study materials including a syllabus and good reading list available).
I agree that reading some classic texts would be on par with anything offered on line. Just remember that many are concerned with large-scale brewing of pale lagers. One thing that I found most useful in being at a physical school is the tastings of doped beers to ascertain palate strenghts/weaknesses, access to a great microscope and known contaminant cultures, discussions with a room full of professionals, and the friends you make in the industry. Sounds like you have a great background and will do well. Good luck!