The University of New Hampshire is hopping onto the craft beer industry by offering students the chance to minor in brewing to meet a growing workforce demand.
It's also creating an analytical testing lab that officials say would be the first of its kind in New England.
The new program will offer students a skill set that is in high demand, given there are more than 50 breweries in New Hampshire alone, said vice president for academic affairs P.T. Vasudevan.
"We are starting this new minor in the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture with the expectation that it will bring more internships and job opportunities for our graduates, giving our students a skill set that is already in high demand," he said. "We plan to make quality control testing available to brewers and distillers in the state and envision creating continuing education courses through Cooperative Extension."
A microbiology class offered in the early 1990s provided limited beer testing to Frank Jones Brewery as it worked to reopen, school officials said. With a fermentation lab in Durham, UNH can better offer faster results while providing students with an opportunity for hands-on experience.
"The beer industry is not only a strong economic force in the state, but an emerging cultural and creative force as well," said Marc Sedam, managing director of UNHInnovation. "This effort supports the beer industry in the near- and long-term and connects the industry to the intellectual and business resources and facilities at UNH."
The lab and pilot plant are expected to open in early 2017.
At least one local brewery is eager to avail itself of the new program and lab.
"At Throwback Brewery, we are all about keeping it local, so we would be thrilled to leverage the analytical services UNH intends to provide," said Nicole Carrier, co-founder and president of the North Hampton brewery. "Further, as a growing brewery, we look forward to being able to hire graduating students with not just the required classroom knowledge, but with the much needed hands-on brewing and lab experience."
UNH Professional Development and Training, a division of the Cooperative Extension, plans to launch a five-day, non-credit course called "Craft Brewery Startup Workshop: The Business of Beer" -- a step-by-step workshop on how to start a craft brewery. Registration will begin after March 30.
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