Illinois college adds degree in beer brewing

Bartender Lucy Lampland poured a beer.
Bartender Lucy Lampland pours a beer for a customer at Grand Rounds Brewpub in downtown Rochester.
Alex Kolyer for MPR News

An Illinois university has a new accredited degree in fermentation science to train future brewers, distillers and vintners.

The state Board of Higher Education approved Southern Illinois University's new Bachelor of Science degree in March.

Matt McCarroll, director of the Fermentation Science Institute at the university, said rapid growth in craft brewing has led to demand for trained fermentation scientists and coursework focused on brewing science. While fewer than 100 breweries existed in the U.S. in the mid-1970s, there are more than 4,000 today, he told the newspaper.

Graduates will be able to work at several micro-breweries in the region and along the area's Shawnee Wine Trail.

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Students will start in the major in the summer, McCarroll said.

"We know this is a growth industry and our students will be well prepared to gain employment in this field," he said.

Fermentation science involves chemistry, plant biology, microbiology and agricultural sciences. McCarroll said programs similar to the one at Southern Illinois University are concentrated on the West Coast.

A 74,000 square-foot, geo-thermal building called the McLafferty Annex Collaborative Research Facility on the campus's west side will be home to the program.