A local brewer’s impact on SPSCC’s new Craft Brewing and Distilling program

What is a college to do when an entire community has identified a need—and an opportunity—to build an educational program that will support the growth of one of the most exciting industries in existence?  Do it.
South Puget Sound Community College has always been dedicated to building workforce education that responds to the needs of the South Sound region. So when the Thurston Economic Development Council, City of Tumwater, and a collection of local craft beverage makers came together with us to identify that education was one of the gaps holding back this local industry from booming, we knew exactly how we could help.
That’s why SPSCC is launching our brand new 2-year Associate in Applied Science degree program in Craft Brewing and Distilling this fall. And industry leaders like Top Rung Brewing Company are helping lead the charge and speak for our local brewers as we build the program.
Top Rung’s co-founder and Business Manager, Casey Sobol, is the head of the college’s advisory committee for the new program. We visited Casey and his business partner Jason Stoltz at their brewery to talk about their success and thoughts on building the workforce needed to support the growing local industry.
“What we really need is community collaboration to grow and bring in the workforce needed,” said Casey. “What we’re missing is the education—the technical and chemistry side of brewing. Then there’s the business plan and investors. You need both to be successful.”  Top Rung has seen a 50% growth year over year since opening.
Our program includes general education, core requirements, and electives. Core requirements include chemistry classes, maintenance and manufacturing courses, and significant business curriculum. After finishing their core requirements, students can get cooperative work experience through internships and begin applying their skills in their chosen specialty area: brewing, distilling, or cider making.
For more information on the program, visit spscc.edu/culinary-beverage-arts.

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