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Minoring in beer: New opportunity for South Dakota college students this fall

Augustana Brewing and Fermentation.jpg
Augustana University
Augustana students show off products made in their food preservation class, which serves as the first course in the new brewing minor.

Starting this fall, students at Augustana University in Sioux Falls will be able to minor in brewing and fermentation — but those younger than 21 won't be able to sample the product.

That's OK, according Cory Conover, an Augustana history professor who's helping to create the program.

“If you’re not 21, then these labs will be like every other one you take,” Conover said. “If you’re doing a chemistry lab, you don’t eat your chemistry experiment.”

The new program, which is one of the first two in South Dakota, will have two separate tracks. One will teach the applied science behind fermentation, in which students will brew their own products, and the other will focus on the business and marketing elements of the brewing field.

Brewers involved

The minor was created by Conover and by Augustana biology professor Stephanie Bruggeman, who serves as the head of the program.

The program will also feature collaboration with local fermentation businesses, such as breweries and ethanol producers, which Bruggeman said will help students understand the entire fermentation process.

“This program is going to give them hands-on experience working with local brew pubs and local companies in production facilities,” Bruggeman said. “They're going to get this really well-rounded background.”

One business that’s working closely with the new program is Remedy Brewing Company in Sioux Falls. Some of the brewing and fermentation program’s off-campus classes will be held at the company’s facilities, where students will interact with the fermentation process and the related equipment.

"It would be really nice to have people in the workforce that have an inkling or an understanding of what they're getting into. It's not all glam and glitz working in a brewery. There's a lot of hard work."
Matt Hastad, CEO Remedy Brewing Company

Remedy Brewing Company CEO Matt Hastad, who is a graduate of Augustana, said many potential workers in the brewing industry could benefit from hands-on experience.

“It would be really nice to have people in the workforce that have an inkling or an understanding of what they're getting into,” Hastad said. “It's not all glam and glitz working in a brewery. There's a lot of hard work.”

According to Hastad, since most college programs that focus on fermentation and brewing aren’t located in the Midwest, having Augustana’s program nearby will help local businesses that need workers educated in the field.

“Seeing people that are here, that want to be here, that are excited about being here and being educated in it will only truly help this industry and other fermentation science industries grow,” Hastad said.

Challenges ahead

In addition to Augustana’s new program, South Dakota State University in Brookings announced its plans earlier this year for a minor and certification that covers the production and service of wine, beer and spirits. The SDSU program will start this fall.

For Augustana’s program, Bruggeman said she has had to overcome logistical challenges.

Because Augustana is a dry campus, community partners have had to help the program by hosting some classes off-campus.

With the program starting this fall, Bruggeman and Conover said they’re working to implement it in a safe way.

“As we kick off this this brewing-fermentation minor, we're also enhancing the awareness programs,” Bruggeman said. “The social awareness programs, the health awareness programs.”

According to Conover, Augustana has a student organization that brings attention to the dangers of excessive drinking. The university also plans to educate students on intervening when someone is consuming a dangerous amount of alcohol.

Andrew Kronaizl is a senior at Augustana University. He is from Vermillion, SD, and is based out of SDPB's Sioux Falls studio.