MSU Denver is the first U.S. school to have its own Cask micro-canning line.
MSU instructor and student
Credit: Cask Global Canning Solutions

A generation ago, the idea of taking classes on how to brew beer was the kind of things college students might joke about. Outside of a handful of prominent examples, brewing as a major barely existed. But thanks to the boom in the craft beer industry, beer-related classes and programs can be found across the entire country. And at the Metropolitan State University of Denver, now, students can even get hands-on experience using the smaller micro-canning lines popular with today’s independent craft breweries.

This week, Canada-based Cask Global Canning Solutions announced it has donated one of its Micro-Automated Canning Systems to MSU Denver. A spokesman for Cask said he believes the college is now the only one in the U.S. to have its own canning line and offer courses in canning. Regardless, it’s definitely the only one with a Cask system, which is an important distinction: Cask helped launch the canned beer revolution in 2002 when Colorado’s Oskar Blues used one of Cask’s tiny canning systems to become the first American microbrewery to can its own beers. Before then, canning systems were unwieldy, and canning was only possible by larger brewers. But in the 17 years since, canning has proliferated across the craft beer scene — becoming the hippest packaging on the market — all thanks to the concept of “micro-canning.”

“The Cask canning line will be a true difference maker for both MSU Denver and the beer industry as a whole,” Scott Kerkmans, the director of MSU Denver’s Beer Industry Program, explained. “Our students are the next generation of brewery leaders, and now they can learn about micro-canning on equipment ideally suited for small and medium-sized breweries. They can apply that knowledge while interning during school and working after graduation.”

Admittedly, attending canning classes might not be the most exciting part of getting a degree in brewing (tasting day certainly beats it), but MSU Denver’s Beer Industry Program offers degree and non-degree coursework that “blends the art and science of brewing beer with the hospitality knowledge and operational skills sought by the beer and brewing industries” — so canning is only one practical component.

Meanwhile, the donated canning equipment is for more than just educational purposes. The system will be utilized by the on-campus Tivoli Brewing Company, packaging beer for actual sale. “While the canning line could have gone in a classroom or lab, instead it will be in a fully operational craft brewery,” Tivoli Brewing President and CEO Ken Hehir stated. “So it’ll provide revenue to the beer program and real-world brewery experience to students.”

MSU instructors and students
Credit: Cask Global Canning Solutions

Brewing degrees, elective classes on beer, on-campus breweries… College has always been known as a good time, but the kids today are really taking it to the next level.