A new program brewing at TRU

Karla Karcioglu, Roving Editor Ω

Several university professors are working alongside one of Kamloops’ long-successful brewers to bring a new brewing program to TRU.

The brewing facilities at the Noble Pig Brewhouse here in Kamloops. Karla Karcioglu/The Omega

The brewing facilities at the Noble Pig Brewhouse in Kamloops. Karla Karcioglu/The Omega

Dean of science Tom Dickinson has been helping Ron Smith (professor of biology) and David Beardsell (master brewer and partner of the Noble Pig Brewhouse) set in motion the paperwork and processes to formalize a brewing program on campus.

One of the first goals of the brewing program is to open a brewery on campus, complete with a pub and a tasting room. Beardsell is having discussions with the TRU Community Trust, a corporate entity that focuses on property development, to determine if there is a place on campus where a brewery would be permitted.

Smith is in the process of presenting a proposal draft of the course outline, calendar description, learning objectives and a course list to the school.

Beardsell said that they are in the “exploratory stages” of the process. He said this could be the one thing TRU needs to be a really cool university and that it would be the first university in Canada with a functioning brewery.

Scott Stokes, a TRU alumnus who graduated with a degree in biological sciences in 2005, is a brewer at the Labatt brewery in Edmonton.

While he was at TRU, he participated in a co-op program with Labatt. When he graduated he worked with Beardsell, then-owner of Bear Brewing in Kamloops, before going back to work for Labatt.

Stokes said that there is a definite demand in the Canadian beer industry for skilled workers, especially those with hands-on brewing skills.

He also admitted that the industry and the job demand isn’t the size of trades or nursing, but noted that the industry is growing and because it’s very specialized, there are few skilled workers available.

Beardsell estimates there are about 1,000 jobs that currently need to be filled.

Stokes said that because brewing requires a mix of microbiology, chemistry and engineering, breweries usually hire engineers for the task.

According to Industry Canada’s statistics, breweries employed 10,093 people in 2001 and 8,727 in 2010. Of those 8,727, there were 4,146 working in production and 4,581 in administration.

The one-year program is three terms long, with 15 credits per term. It will be an interdisciplinary program blending courses in science, business, trades and arts.

The majority of brewing courses will be open to all TRU students age 19 or older who meet the prerequisites, with preference given to students in the program. Students will graduate with a diploma or a minor in brewing.

Courses tentatively include history and philosophy of brewing and beer, brewing chemistry, the business of brewing, evaluation of beer and bottling and packaging. Smith was especially pleased when the registrar’s office approved the course code “BREW.”

There are only two other schools in Canada with brewing programs. Niagara College has a two-year Brewmaster and Brewery Operations diploma, which it offered to Olds College in Alberta for first classes in fall 2013.