Shippensburg University cultivates future brewers


Most Pennsylvania craft brewers get their start as home brewers, says Alison Feeney, professor of geography/earth science. When Shippensburg University launched its new brew science program, funded by a $70,000 Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board grant, it made sense to kick-off its initiative to grow the industry by cultivating new home brewers.

On Feb. 23, Ship hosted a hands-on, one day home brewing course with local brewer Brad Moyer. The four hour course brought a full senses offering of beer. Participants could see, smell and taste the brewing process, and by day's end they were ready to start brewing at home.

“The grant is intended for those with higher level skill set, but we started getting a lot of interest from people wanting to learn,” said Feeney.

The inaugural course was such a success, Ship hopes to plan more, but the focus of the program now shifts to the intended audience, programming for established craft breweries who provide a $7 billion surge to Pennsylvania’s economy.

Shippensburg University is uniquely positioned to support and further elevate the industry.

Ship’s Geography/Earth Science Department is home to experts well versed in agricultural best practices in quality and sustainability that ensure successful production of the 4 key ingredients of beer, barley, hops, water and yeast. Best practices in fermentation and brewing are supported by Ship’s Chemistry Department. Successful breweries also depend on business plans, marketing and accounting, areas of expertise for the John L. Grove College of Business. Ship’s Political Science Department offers experts to help navigate the heavily regulated brewing industry. And as the equipment and software brewers utilize continues to evolve, Ship’s School of Engineering can provide guidance.

Brewers benefit from these varied relationships with departments, and in turn, students from these programs will have access to internship, job shadowing and mentoring opportunities with local brewers.

When consumers support local brewers they ensure that more money stays in our local communities. Craft breweries can be the catalysts for urban and town revitalization projects and Ship is working to keep the momentum of growth a priority in Pennsylvania.