Brewers college at COCC

Central Oregon Community College plans to offer a new brewing course in February aimed at people seeking to move up in the beer industry.

The course is geared toward preparing students for the United Kingdom-based Institute of Brewing and Distilling general certificate, an industry-recognized brewing credential. The course will be offered in a blended format, combining online work, monthly weekend classroom sessions, guest speakers and optional learning tours.

“The course is for people in the industry who may not be the master brewer or heavily involved in the brewing but are looking for a way to gain a higher level of expertise,” said Nancy Jumper, COCC program manager in business and employee development. Jumper includes in her target audience people who work in bottling and the offices of breweries, but doesn’t exclude those who have so far contained their passion to a hobby and are looking to start a new career.

The course will be taught by Bill Pengelly, a former brewer for Deschutes Brewery who left academia to put his Princeton biology Ph.D. to use making beer.

“Malting is all biology and biochemistry; yeast fermentation is all biology, too,” said Pengelly, who wrote his dissertation on plant hormones and tumor genesis.

Pengelly’s transition into the field was spurred by a longtime interest in beer colliding with the explosion of Portland microbreweries in the 1980s. Jumper said the COCC course is being offered in Bend in response to our own brewing explosion.

“Bend is clearly becoming more and more of a beer town,” she said. “Our administration asked us to develop a course and so we talked to brewers in the area to see what they wanted and to get a feel for what is out there already.”

Students are expected to come in with basic understanding of algebra and biology, as the course will emphasize not only the practice of brewing but the science and math underlying it.

“This isn’t going to be your typical home-brewing class where everyone makes beer; it’s really a career move,” Jumper said.

The guest speakers have not been finalized yet, but Pengelly has spoken with brewers at Deschutes and Worthy Brewing Co.

He said he also hopes to draw in people from Portland.

“Basically I want to get people who may be better able to speak on special topics than me,” Pengelly said.

The course’s blended format and weekend sessions are meant to accommodate professionals and people from across the region.

“We’re looking for a niche that doesn’t require someone to quit their job to do this program,” Jumper said. “We set it up so someone from Eugene or Portland or Hood River could come in, and I’ve even spoken to a prospective student from Montana.”

The course needs at least eight students to enroll before it will be offered. So far, two have enrolled, and there is a cap of 20 students. The total cost is $1,675, which covers instructional materials, classroom sessions and IBD test fees.

Students will meet on Saturday and Sunday one weekend of each month from February through May before taking the exam. The test consists of 60 multiple choice questions and requires a 70 percent to pass.

— Reporter: 541-633-2160,

Home Beer Brewing

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