Some college graduates might joke they minored in beer studies. But that's actually the case for a new group of students at Paul Smith's College in upstate New York.
This month, the college announced it would start offering a craft-brewing minor to all of its students. But unlike traditional brewing programs, most of these courses get into the business of craft beer—how to market, distribute, and promote the increasingly popular adult beverage.
Joe Conto, the director of the Hospitality, Resort and Tourism Management Program at Paul Smith's, is the man behind the new academic option. A homebrewer himself (he's dabbled with pale ales and a Saison), Conto found himself drawn to the minor through the growing popularity of craft beer nationwide and through the food courses he was already teaching.
"Beer just began to take up more and more of the semester. It became more and more interesting to the students, certainly, but to me as well," Conto says. "And then I realized, holy cow, I could teach a course just on beer. And then I said, 'Well, really, I could teach a whole major on beer.' And then I thought, 'Well, I'll just settle for a minor.'"
Students in the program take a course on marketing (an introduction to entrepreneurship, advertising, and promotion), a course on food chemistry (understanding how food reacts in a chemical makeup, and the basics of brewing and fermentation), a practical brewing lab (brewing the major types of ale in small batches, taught by a local brewer), and a course on the business of craft beer (learning how to make money off of the product), along with other elective courses on the food and beverage industry.