Shippensburg University is adding beer-brewing courses


    Shippensburg University will soon be adding beer-brewing courses. It's part of an initiative to boost the industry in the state.

    Leading the way for the university's program is a woman who has been study the industry for some time now.

    One of the oldest home brewery making stores in the country can be found in Cumberland County.

    Inside there, you may find Dr. Alison Feeney smelling barley.

    Or you could find her in one of the 350 breweries throughout the state. She's in the process of visiting them all.

    "What really got me exited was the small breweries in the little towns throughout the state that are really preserving downtown's and main streets," Feeney said.

    She's even written a book about the breweries where she talks about the history of the buildings some of the state's breweries are used for and how the breweries are giving back to their communities.

    But this isn't her full-time job.

    She also is a professor at Shippensburg University, where she'll soon be teaching some new courses.

    Thanks to a state grant from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, Shippensburg University will be putting together courses to train the next generation of brewers, from creation of the beer and yeast propagation, to marketing the product.

    "There's all different skill sets out there that brewers need and that's all we want to aim to do," Feeney explained.

    During her time traveling to breweries across the state she learned that many of them are in need of a skilled workforce.

    The courses that Shippensburg plans to offer will focus on science, technology, engineering, fermentation and management skills.

    Initial courses will be short, intense courses. The university will also have brew science and management workshops.

    You can read more about the programs here.

    The state supports the needs to grow the industry as well.

    This year Pennsylvania will give out more than $800,000 worth of grants to help keep the industry thriving.

    "Pennsylvania is number one in the nation for the number of barrels of craft beers produced in the country and it is a 1.1 billion dollar industry in our state. So it has a strong impact on our economy," Laura England, the state's Department of Agriculture Market Development Director, explained as she stood next to beers from around the state at the Farm Show.

    For the first time this year the Farm Show held a craft-beer making contest, showing how popular the industry has become.

    Feeney said many of the brewers throughout the state now started by making beer in their college dorm rooms or home basements. Now more people are looking to step in the industry from the start,

    "It's not just a fad that's going to pass by. I think people really do like their craft beer," Feeney explained.

    The grant Shippensburg got was for about $70,000. That money will be distributed this summer. The university plans to start offering courses shortly after that.

    Long-term Feeney said the university is looking to even create a major.

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