HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – As more people become interested in homebrewing, which is surging due to the pandemic, colleges are now partnering with brewers to create a guide to crafting spirits at home.
Calhoun Community College saw a growing community interest in brewing and decided to take up an offer from the Fractal Brewing Project to get a certified class off the ground. However, as a whole, Alabama is considered to be behind the times when it comes to the brewing industry.
“Alabama is actually very far behind as far as brewery count per state,” said Brad Robison, the Brewmaster at Fractal Brewing Project.
There’s roughly 40 breweries in Alabama.
Robison says North Alabama’s population of engineers and scientists are driving a real demand.
“So many people that come in here want to ask questions about beer or the equipment,” said Robison.
The pandemic may also be influencing more people to turn their hobbies into a side gig. Often called a side hustle. One study says 57 million Americans have a side hustle to supplement their income.
Over the course of the last year, Etsy reports a 42 percent spike in new sellers and Yelp reports a 10 percent increase in new businesses.
“It’s blossomed up. They want to open up a brewery. They want to open a brewpub. They see the potential that it has,” said Robison of some hobbyists.
Robison welcomes more diversity in the brewing market. The 6 session home brewing classes are offered by Calhoun but will take place at Fractal in the education room. The first classes start June 15th and end June 27th. The lectures and hands-on activities cover brewing, fermentation and packaging.
The class costs $320 plus roughly $80 for supplies. Some companies that make the supplies report major spikes in buying the supplies, so plan ahead.
“The people who register for the class will have to purchase their materials. Just like books for a regular class,” said Doug Brazier, who works in Business Development for Calhoun Community College.
Another more advanced brewing class could lead to a Brewers Assistant Certificate.
The American Homebrewers Association says over a million people homebrew. Roughly 40 percent started within the last few years.
“I was able to do an internship at a brewery and go over and help this one get opened. It made me realize that I could take it from a hobby to a paycheck and really enjoy doing it,” said Robison who will lead the classes at Fractal.
People have already started signing up for fall courses. At last check, the June session was nearly full.