A WELL CRAFTED EDUCATION
By. Dr. Gonzalo J. Quintero
This article originally appeared in the June issue of West Coaster San Diego.
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“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” These words attributed to Greek philosopher Aristotle, in no uncertain terms, assert the need for connection of spirit, mind, and body throughout the educational pursuits of the individual. San Diego State University College of Extended Studies (SDSU CES) Professional Certificate in The Business of Craft Beer has succeeded in doing just that for hundreds of students since the program’s inception in 2013. Classes that delve into beer styles through tastings and food pairings taught from the perspective of a world-renowned publican; to a brewery start up course helmed by the industry’s go to attorney at law have been at the heart of the program as have the industry professionals whom sit on its advisory board. SDSU COE has shared in many student successes by pairing passion with knowledge, the heart to the brain, with a few splashes of craft beer in the mix. Recently I had a chance to catch up with three of my former students: Steve Garcia, Travis Hudson and Michael Peacock. All three are graduates and holders of a professional certification, students whose “life after SDSU” has been taken to great heights in the world of craft beer.
WC: What attracted you to The Professional Certificate in the Business of Craft Beer?
Michael: Initially, I thought it would help improve my job skills. What I discovered was that I needed to change my career path completely and focus 100% of my time on beer.
Steve: Being a San Diego native, my love of craft beer and brewing was a major factor in enrolling in the program. However, “career growth” played a big role as well. At that point I had been in banking/finance for 15 years and the craft beer industry was steam rolling along in San Diego. I figured having additional knowledge and insight on how the Craft Beer Industry functioned on a daily basis, would give me a leg up on other bankers trying to gain brewery’s business. Along the way I realized I was trudging along the wrong career path.
Travis: I was already working in the industry on the retail side, and thought it was the next logical step to increase my knowledge of the craft beer world having already passed the certified beer server certification. It was also a ground floor type of thing and I hoped being one of the first graduating classes would lead to the types of opportunities I was looking for.
WC: Did the program meet your expectations?
Steve: Not only did the SDSU Business of Craft Beer program meet my expectations; it is a major reason for me leaving my banking career and putting my dreams in motion. I am now in the process of taking our home brewing love to a whole new level with the planning and development of Thr3e Punk Ales Brewing Co. here in San Diego as well as a similar brewing venture in Tijuana.
Travis: It did. I always tell people it was taught by people in the industry and not just Bob Loblaw from the community college. Even just one piece of knowledge from people who work in craft beer is indispensable if you’re looking to advance your career in this business.
Michael: The program has far exceeded my expectations. I thought I would learn a few new things about beer and be able to better converse with my customers on the topic. What I did not expect to find was how much passion there was with everyone involved in the craft beer explosion. I had to be a part of that.
WC: What are you doing with the knowledge?
Steve: The knowledge gained through the completion of this program has been invaluable. We had the privilege of being mentored by some of the industry legends. Their “first hand” experience in owning and operating their brewery has served as our “guiding light”.
Travis: I have since focused my energy to the distribution side of the craft beer world, starting with a small start-up company. I embrace the opportunity to help not only the fledgling distribution company grow, but also build brand awareness for some lesser known local breweries. I’ve also enjoyed getting away from the corporate structure of the retail end and focus on business that actually supports local craft beer.
Michael: On a personal level, I am continuing to learn as much as I can about beer and the industry. I am hoping to pass my second level Cicerone certification in the future. On a professional level, I will be teaching a class in the program on Draught Systems. I have worked on that side of the industry for many years and discovered a tremendous interest from others in the program about how these systems work. When I was asked by some of the instructors if I would teach this material, I did not hesitate.
WC: What advice do you have for others following your path?
Steve: If you’re interested in joining the craft beer industry in any facet, do yourself a favor and enroll in the SDSU Business of Craft Beer program.
Travis: Absorb all the knowledge that is available to us in this day and age, and take advantage of the knowledge of the people surrounding you. I’ve learned as much from the people in the program than the actual program itself. One of the best functions of the program is the networking with those you come in contact with through the classes, and the craft beer community as a whole.
Michael: Get out there in the middle of it. You do not need to go very far. Surround yourself with craft beer people. Go to every event that you can. Volunteer to pour or just help set-up. Try styles that seem scary. Find a designated driver, get a group of friends together and go on a brewery tour. Be that DD. Continue to learn all that you can and talk about it to everyone you see. Have fun! This is a wonderful time to be in San Diego.
Indeed it is. What these students have achieved in the business of craft beer is proof positive that the craft beer industry is booming, educated individuals are thriving in it, and The Professional Certificate in The Business of Craft Beer Program has crafted a workforce which is in high demand.
Gonzalo J. Quintero, Ed.D.