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Tops in hops

By Nathan Solheim

April 25, 2017

MBAA logo

MSU Denver is brewing up excellence in beer education.

In March, the Master Brewers Association of the Americas – a prestigious international beer industry group – included MSU Denver’s brewing program on its inaugural list of academic institutions that have met or exceeded the association’s guidelines and learning outcomes. The recognition means MSU Denver’s brewing program is among a select few cited for its quality of education.

“Currently, there’s only one entity in the beer world that’s even attempting to recognize or accredit universities that are teaching beer-related subjects, and that’s the MBAA,” says Scott Kerkmans, director of MSU Denver’s brewing program. “To get that recognition from them is incredibly important for the growth of our program. And it shows that we are teaching the students the relevant information to succeed in the beer world.”

Formed in 1887, the MBAA has more than 4,000 members from 50 countries in all facets of the brewing industry. The recognition places MSU Denver’s brewing program alongside some of the more established and well-known brewing programs like the University of California, Davis.

“The badge of recognition is a useful tool for both prospective brewing and fermentation science students as well as professional brewers to assess programs,” says Susan Welch, cochair of the MBAA’s Higher Education Committee. “[The MBAA] wants to ensure the future of the brewing industry by establishing the requirements for the most robust and effective training available to students in the world today.”

Only two other institutions selected for the MBAA recognition have dedicated beer programs. In contrast, prospective brewing students can choose from more than 100 academic programs that focus on beer through food or fermentation science tracks. “That we have a beer degree is a great differentiator for us,” Kerkmans adds.

The review process for the recognition took eight months to complete and included everything from justifying the program’s faculty experience to demonstrating its facilities. MSU Denver’s program was chosen for the recognition even though it currently occupies a temporary space in the Hospitality Learning Center.

“Achieving this kind of national recognition within a year of formally launching our two brewing degrees is testimony to the strength of our curriculum and the perseverance of our head ‘brewfessor,’ Scott Kerkmans,” says Carol Krugman, chair of MSU Denver’s Department of Hospitality, Tourism and Events. “We’ve known from the beginning that our program is unique, but it is always special to receive third-party confirmation from organizations such as the MBAA.”

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