What is a Brewing Science Degree?

Brewmasters are scientists. Beer is their subject matter. And degree programs in brewing science teach the science – and the art – of making beer. The typical curriculum focuses on the raw materials and ingredients of beer, recipe formulation, identifying different styles of beer, analyzing and evaluating quality, production technologies and processes, the business of beer, and the history of beer.

Brewing science is based in chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, and chemical engineering. Earning a degree in brewing science is, at its humblest level, about answering the question, ‘What makes this beer taste so good?’

Program Options

Certificate in Brewing Science – Four to Six Month Duration
Certificate programs teach only subjects in the major. They are focused on the fundamentals of brewing science and prepare students for some entry-level roles only.

Associate Degree in Brewing Science – Two Year Duration
A brewing science associate program combines courses in the major with some liberal arts classes in subjects such as English literature and composition and the social sciences. Grads with this associate degree typically qualify for most entry-level jobs in the field.

Bachelor’s Degree in Brewing Science – Four Year Duration
The brewing science bachelor’s degree is the most comprehensive credential in the field. Programs at this level incorporate more extensive lab experiences and often a practicum/internship component. Graduates with a Bachelor’s Degree in Brewing Science qualify for supervisory and management positions.

Despite the differences described above, brewing science courses like the following are at the heart of these programs:

  • Introduction to Brewing – the history of beer and brewing, the evolution of the brewing industry, the historical role of beer in nutrition, the impact of alcohol on the human body, the responsible use of alcohol
  • Brewing I – the fundamentals of beer making, the four basic ingredients of beer: water, malt, hops, and yeast, introduction to brewing equipment operation and maintenance
  • Sensory Evaluation and Ingredients – how various ingredients affect the style and quality of beer, detecting and identifying desirable product characteristics and perceived flaws, the physiology and psychology of sensory perception, assessing and describing the elements of beer quality using the correct terminology
  • Brewing Chemistry – the different types of chemicals used in beer production, the fermentation and filtration of beer; the properties of gases and liquids, thermodynamics, pH and pressure, and how they influence brewery production processes and beer quality; measuring and monitoring the chemical properties of beer
  • Brewing II – selecting ingredients used in brewing, further hands-on learning in brewing equipment operation and maintenance
  • Brewing Microbiology – the role of yeast and other micro-organisms in the brewing process, yeast metabolism and how it affects the fermentation process and the finished beer flavor
  • Brewing Equipment and Technology – operations and processing equipment used in the commercial beer making industry; pumps, process automation, and utilities; brewery safety and sanitation, environmental concerns, and food safety regulations
  • Introduction to Finishing and Packaging – examination of storage and different types of filters in relation to the clarification of beer; carbonation methods and stabilizing of beer ready for packaging; bottling, canning, and kegging of beer
  • Brewing III – advanced brewing techniques, practice operating and controlling brewing facilities
  • Advanced Finishing and Packaging – advanced filtration techniques and filter design, use of various carbonation and clarification methods, beer stabilization methods
  • Calculations and Recipe Formulation – developing beer recipes, grain and hop usage rates in beer recipes, determining precise alcohol levels, using calculations to develop a brewery capacity plan
  • The Brewing Industry – the scope of the beer industry and its impact on the community and the economy, government regulatory bodies, industry trade organizations, distribution and container management systems
  • Business Ethics – employer-employee relations, risk analysis, occupational and product safety, environmental protection, multinational practices
  • Product Evaluation and Judging – evaluating a beer’s sensory properties under the categories of profiles, quality, and potential flaws; organizing sensory panels (groups of testers), strategies for participating in beer competitions
  • Brewing IV – students develop recipes reflecting a variety of seasonal and specialty beers, apply beer making techniques to create a signature beer, and complete an analysis and report of each product
  • Beer Marketing and Sales – beer marketing, promotion, and sales
  • Brewery Management Business Planning – brewery business planning including managing and scheduling staff, legal compliance, and record keeping

Degrees Similar to Brewing Science

Degree programs in this discipline teach students about one or more aspects of general agriculture. Coursework may cover topics like farm management, crop science, animal husbandry, agriculture technology, soil science, and food distribution.

Degree programs in this field teach students how to investigate the growth and behavior of crops, the development of new plants, the soils and nutrients that nourish them, and the control of pests and diseases.

The focus of biochemistry is the chemical processes and reactions that occur in living matter. Biochemists apply principles of both biology and chemistry to issues in many different sectors, including the environment, medicine and health, industry and manufacturing, agriculture, biofuels, and marine science.

Majors in this field study engineering and the life sciences to create new products – such as vaccines, medicines, growth hormones for plants, and food additives – for the agricultural, industrial, and environmental industries.

Chemistry deals with identifying the substances that make up matter. Degree programs in chemistry focus on investigating these substances: their properties; how they interact, combine, and change; and how scientists can use chemical processes to form new substances.

Food Science
The subject matter of food science degree programs spans the areas of biology, biochemistry, and chemical engineering. Students learn how to apply these foundations to examine food properties and develop foods that are sustainable.

Degree programs in this field teach the science and art of cultivating fruits, vegetables, flowers, and/or ornamental plants. Horticulture students learn about plant biology and nutrition, soil science, and greenhouse and nursery management.

Soil Science
Soil science degree programs are focused on the formation, ecology, and classification of soil. Students take courses in seed science, fertilizers, geology, weed science, and genetics.

Skills You’ll Learn

Brewing science graduates come away from their studies with a diverse set of transferable skills, including the following:

  • Accounting
  • Attention to detail / standards of practice / protocols
  • Communication with colleagues and customers
  • Inventory management
  • Problem-solving and troubleshooting
  • Production and planning
  • Project management
  • Sales and marketing
  • Software use

What Can You Do with a Brewing Science Degree?

Because of the very specific nature of the degree, graduates of brewing science tend to work directly in the field, typically with:

  • Microbreweries / Craft Breweries
  • Commercial Breweries
  • Specialty Beer and Wine Stores
  • Brewing Science Education Programs

Depending on their employer and the specific responsibilities of their position, brewing science grads may hold various titles. Here are some examples:

  • Brewmaster
  • Assistant Brewer
  • Brewer
  • Brewery Manager
  • Brewery Supply Chain Manager
  • Brewing Supervisor
  • Cellar Manager
  • Flavor Specialist
  • Head Brewer
  • Lead Brewer
  • Operations Manager
  • Packaging Lead
  • Quality Assurance Specialist
  • Quality Control Specialist
  • Tasting Lounge Manager


Discover what you’ll learn—and what you can do after you graduate.

Read about Overview