College’s Extended Campus puts brewing course on tap

Courtesy photo.  Alex Patten recently completed the certificate program in Craft Brewing & Fermentation through the Extended Campus at MSU Billings and now works for Canyon Creek Brewing, where he completed an internship.

Alex Patten already had a B.A. in political science, but after years of cultivating a passion for food and beer, the 33-year-old wanted to pursue a career down that path instead.
With family here and a dream to become a professional beer brewer, his decision to move to Billings was an easy one once he learned MSU Billings offered a Craft Brewing and Fermentation Certificate Program.
“I came back to Billings last year and quickly enrolled in the program that summer,” Patten said. He recently completed the 16-credit undergraduate course and landed an internship with Canyon Creek Brewing.
As of May, Patten is employed full-time by the popular micro-brewery on the city’s westend. Brewery co-owner Ron Kalvig said Patten’s scientific knowledge of brewing will be an asset to Canyon Creeks’ process and long-term success.
“I’ve been home brewing since 1998 and we opened three and a half years ago. Alex definitely knows more about the science and technical aspects of brewing and that’s exciting,” Kalvig said. “As we get bigger and over time, we’re going to want to keep and expand the lab aspect of things to create better brews.”
As Billings and Montana’s custom brew scene grows, so will the need for certified brewers with scientific knowledge of the fermentation process.
Extended Campus is now excepting applications for the upcoming certification program. In addition to biochemistry, microbiology, and technology it also covers the business of craft brewing industries (including spirits and wine).
If you want to learn more about brewing beer, the Intro to All Grain Beer Brewing course may be just for you.
 Director Kevin Nemeth said, “this is a unique opportunity to learn the brewing process by doing- under the watchful guidance of an experienced brewer.”
Participants will also have an opportunity to taste the fruits of their labor in a special evening session about two weeks later.
 “Space is limited,” Nemeth said. “We want to make sure everyone understands the process and has an opportunity to get their hands dirty.”
 The Intro to All Grain Beer Brewing course takes place from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., August 5 and from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., August 22. Cost is $49. For more information please visit: http://www.msubillings.edu/extendedcampus/craft_brew_certificate.htm.

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