Beginning in September 2016, Bishop's University will offer a graduate certificate in brewing science, designed to prepare students to enter the brewing industry.

Associate chemistry professor Dale Wood created the program, and he says it will dive deep into both the scientific and commercial aspects of the field.

"We will look at the very complex science underlying the four ingredients in beer – water, malt, hops, and yeast. We also have a business course, because part of craft brewing is understanding the brewing business."

Gabriel Deschenes with hops

‘Putting the grain in the water, the smell that comes out of it is just amazing,’ says student Gabriel Deschênes, posing with bags of hops at the Bishop’s University brewery. (Kate McGillivray/CBC)

For the last six years, Wood has passed on his passion for beer to his students, teaching beer history and brewing science classes at the undergraduate level.

To help do this, he set up a small brewery on Bishop's campus, called Bishop's Arches, where students brew beer which is then sold to students, staff and faculty. .

The brewing science certificate, which is open only to students who have completed degrees in biology and chemistry, will allow Wood to zoom in even further to the tiny chemical reactions that shape the flavour of beer.

"There are some 500 compounds in a glass of beer," says Wood.

Growth industry

Wood is confident that a graduate certificate in brewing is a sound career choice for his students.

"When you look at just how important brewing is as an industry worldwide, if there are eyebrows raised, that brings them down pretty quickly," he said, adding that more than 100,000 people are employed in the industry in Canada.

"We've seen a doubling of microbreweries in Quebec in the last ten years."  

Other universities in Canada offer courses and programs in brewing, but Wood is confident his certificate's deep scientific focus will give students an edge.   

"We're looking to produce students who can enter the brewery at a high level," he says.

A career in beer

Fourth-year biology student Gabriel Deschênes plans to enroll in the certificate program as soon as the online form goes up.

For Deschênes, deciding to take one of Wood's undergraduate brewing classes was a life-changing experience.

"My plans were to study entomology once I graduated. I thought I was going to be working with bugs," he said.

 "Well, I'm making beer now, and I guess I'm a bit happier that way: I found something that gave me more of passion than entomology did," Deschênes said. "I would love to one day own my own brewery."