According to a competition you wish existed when you went to college.
Athletics are a big part of life on most college campuses. Events like the College Football Playoff and March Madness captivate not just students but the entire country. However, if sports aren’t really your speed, for the past three years, a fledgling new national championship has emerged… the U.S. Open College Beer Championship. And the event just crowned the top U.S. colleges for brewing.
America’s brewery boom has meant that more students have been looking into, and more opportunity exists for, careers in the beer industry. As a result, brewing programs and courses—once the province of just a handful of schools like the University of California, Davis and the Siebel Institute of Technology—have popped up all over the country. Launched in 2016, the U.S. Open College Beer Championship allows any of these colleges to compete in an effort “to help determine the best future brewers in North America,” so long as the beers are “submitted by one of the school’s brewing professors/instructors.” The beers, which can be brewed on any system either on or off campus, are entered into one of five categories—Belgian, Bavarian, Stout, IPA and Open—and then the top three brewing schools are determined by overall performance.
This year, 17 colleges and universities from the U.S. and Canada participated (three more than last year) with 14 of them walking with one of the 19 awarded medals. (Four categories had multiple bronze medal winners.) Proving you don’t need to go to a huge school to learn how to brew, SUNY Morrisville, a state college in central New York with about 3,200 undergraduates took the top honor of best brewing school in North America after scoring three medals: a gold Bavarian Pilsner, a silver IPA and a bronze Belgian Tripel in the Open category. Central New Mexico College took second, and Metropolitan State University of Denver took third.
Granted, the abilities of your students don’t necessarily reflect how well a school’s program can teach the average student to brew, but at the very least, the College Beer Championship would seem like a solid metric for where good student brewing is happening.
Meanwhile, Morrisville only launched its teaching brewery last year, so after hearing the news of his school’s victory, Michael Coons, the brewmaster behind the elective brewing courses, was letting things sink in. “This is still pretty fresh,” he told NYup.com. “I'm sure we'll have some kind of celebration, but we're still working that out.” Maybe they could toast some beers?