Experience with ABG CBA program?
Does anyone have experience with the American Brewer's Guild CBA program? http://www.abgbrew.com/cba.htm
Overall, what are you thoughts on the program?
Specifically trying to understand how much it would help in starting up and running a small neighborhood brewpub.
I graduated the ABG in 2000.
I think it was a good course. It is not the most in-depth training but Steve gives you most of the essentials about brewing. This may not help much with the pub side of the business. A few of the Seattle brewers have graduated from the Guild.
The course is a great stater into the field, however not for openning a pub. my advice is to go work in a restaurant for a few months then decide wehether or not to open a pub. As a 10 yr veteran of the restaraunt side of things, i have seen many places and worked in a few that did not succeed because the owners did not know what thier were getting them selves into. Restaraunt work is hard and rarely rewarding. Just my advise ...
Thanks for the advice. Yes, both my husband and I have worked in restaurants, bars, and taverns and so we're pretty familiar with the "pub" side of things. It's the brewery part that we're more interested in getting experience with - we've only done small-scale brewing at home.
I'm an ABG grad, and know of two other solid successful brewers who were too. I think the program was great as far as the science and chemistry goes. The engineering part was not very comprehensive, but they may have aquired new teachers for that by now. Although, with that being said , I honestly don't think you can trade anything for "hands on" experience.
If you decide to go into this program and follow it up with at least a couple months at a brewery/brewpub, you should come out with the confidence and skill to make good consistent beer. Just my $.02.
I graduated in 1995. Steve Parkes wans't running the school at that time but I know Steve and the other teachers are great. I got a job as a result of the school and I've remained in the industry since then. You will learn theory but as has been mentioned it's practical experince you want.
I'd recommend possibly contacting some of the local breweries/brewpubs in your area and see if you could come by and help out for a week or so. This is going to be the best thing to see if you're interested in this sort of work. If you don't mind being wet, dirty, sweating, splashed with beer, smashed toes, sore back, and much more...you will be a shoe in. If after surviving a week or two I would then think about going to school...
The CBA portion of the program is 5 weeks right? Why don't you take the program to improve your brewing know how, then ask Steve to ensure you're placed at a Guild approved brewpub? Hoppy Brewing kicked ass, but maybe you'd like do do something more like Rubicon or some sort.
Then, you've just got to keep your eyes and ears open about EVERYTHING for 5 weeks. Stick around after work and watch the bartenders pour, offer to wash dishes for a few nights so you can get a feel for the kitchen, talk with the wait staff about their ideas for service, etc. etc. The main thing is, soak it all up like a sponge, and then use what you like and drop what you don't for your own pub.
Once you're open, you'll be thrust into greatness and we'll all drink beer together. Even if you've worked in Pubs before, a brewpub can be a whole different animal. The service level and general atmosphere usually have a different feel from the moment you walk in the door.
Last edited by rudge75; 06-28-2006 at 10:56 AM.
I graduated from Program in 95 prior to Steve taking over. The apprenticeship section of the program is critical. Some of my classmates went to larger breweries and only got to brew once or twice during thier 5 week pub section. I went to a smaller pub and was hands on brewing/filtering/kegging etc.. full time for 5 weeks and got a massive amount of knowledge and experience. The classroom section I thought was very comprehensive and thourough. The instructors at the time were all top notch and constantly challenged us. I am very very satisifed with my experience and many of my classmates are successful brewers and still involved in the industry. I am on my 11th year now of brewing and still loving it.
Valley Brewing Company
Fall 2004 Grad
I graduated from the ABG CBA in the fall of 2004. I thought the class was great and learned a ton of stuff. I had been homebrewing for about 3 years at the time, so I had a basic understanding of the brewing process, and I graduated "real school" as an engineer so I had a good background in the chemistry and engineering side of the class. That being said, the engineering lectures (all lectures are via DVD) was less than stellar and could use an updating only because the lecturer, although I'm sure quite a smart guy, is not the best in front of a class explaining things. The brewing lectures were top notch though. Like I said, I learned a ton.
I did a 5 week stint at a local micro, unfortunately it was over the Christmas/New Year holiday so we only brewed about 6 times over the 5 weeks. Lots of other hands on stuff though, like filterning, kegging, transferring, etc... I loved every minute of it. Sure didn't want to go back to my engineering job, which was kinda the whole point of me taking the class.
I managed to get a few interviews over the next 6 months or so after being done with ABG, but nothing stuck. So, now I am back doing structural engineering. I am still hoping to get into the brewing industry, maybe with a BOP or at least a homebrew shop. Email me directly if you'd like to talk more about it. Oh, and there are a few guys out in Portland that I know also took the class and are doing well. And Omar from Surly Brewing in Minn took the Fall 2004, and now he has opened his own Micro. Sounds like he is doing quite well with it too.
Ted Rice at Chama River in Albuquerque is a ABG grad, if I recall correctly. He and his staff run a great operation out there.