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Sacred Heart University Announces Distillation Science Certificate Program

By February 27, 2024Connecticut, Top News

College of Arts & Sciences Dean Mark Beekey announced Sacred Heart University’s new distillation science program during the conference as Brewing Science Certificate Program Director John Rehm looks on. Photo by Tracy Deer-Mirek.

New courses prepare students to succeed in a growing industry

From Staff Reports

Fairfield-based Sacred Heart University (SHU), which already offers classes in brewing science, has established a distillation science certificate program, the first of its kind in Connecticut. The new program is designed to prepare students to enter the distillation industry or to expand their skill sets.

Coursework is a combination of online and in-person classes, which take place evenings and weekends to accommodate working professionals’ schedules. Distillation leaders and business professionals instruct the courses. In-person classes take place at SHU’s state-of-the-art teaching lab at Two Roads Brewing Company’s Area Two experimental brewing facility in Stratford.

Mark Beekey, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, and John Rehm, Director of the Brewing Science Certificate program, announced the new offering at the Connecticut Brewers’ Guild annual conference at SHU’s West Campus on Jan. 8. The event included a keynote address by Sam Calagione, Founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, and informative breakout sessions for attendees.

“Craft distilleries are experiencing growth in both sales volume and the number of locations each year,” said Beekey. “This certificate program has been designed to offer existing craft breweries hands-on training, enabling them to diversify into craft spirits if they choose. Additionally, it gives entrepreneurs who are interested in craft distillation an opportunity to gain knowledge if they are considering establishing a startup distillery.”

The 23-credit program features coursework in distillation processes, beverage evaluation and operations, plus an internship with an industry partner. The courses focus on scientific brewing and distillation theory, ingredients, recipes, sensory analysis, sanitation, safety and quality control. Students can complete the program in three semesters, or just under a year.

Sam Calagione, Founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, was the keynote speaker. Photo by Tracy Deer-Mirek.

The craft distilled beverage industry is growing, with revenue market share up nearly 15% in the past 20 years. The growth means new job opportunities for people with the proper training and expertise. SHU’s program uniquely qualifies students for roles as assistant distillers, cellar/barrel managers, quality assurance technicians, quality control technicians, sensory analysis program managers, tasting room managers and other positions.

“A working brewery already has much of the equipment required to outfit a distillery. Therefore, there is not a considerable investment in resources to add the capability of producing distilled spirits in a functioning craft brewery,” said Phil Markowski, Co-founder and Master Brewer at Two Roads Brewing Company.

The new program offers the chance for brewers, industry professionals and people simply interested in craft beverages to learn more about the distillation process.

“I’m excited to build this distillation program on the successful foundation of our existing brewing science program. It’s a natural evolution. It’s great that Sacred Heart is introducing this program, and I love to see that others are just as passionate about this industry as I am,” said Rehm.

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