The Oskar Blues Brewery has established an endowed fellowship award to benefit graduate students in the Brewing Sciences and Operations certificate program at Auburn University.
The Colorado-based brewery, founded by Auburn alumnus Dale Katechis, partnered with the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Hospitality Management in the College of Human Sciences, as well as the colleges of veterinary medicine, business and agriculture, to offer the graduate-level program, which started in fall 2014 with 20 students.
Courses are offered online through distance education; however, students visit the Oskar Blues facilities in Brevard, North Carolina, or Longmont, Colorado, for hands-on training at least one weekend during the course of the program.
“It’s been great working with the folks in the place where I brewed my first batch of home brew,” said Katechis. “Developing this program and now the fellowship to help support its students is really exciting for me and the Oskar Blues family.”
The newly created endowment will provide financial assistance to a student who is enrolled in the Auburn University Graduate School and has been accepted into the brewing science program.
Students enrolled in the program have already earned a bachelor’s degree and are seeking entry into the malting, brewing and/or distilling industries. The Auburn program is the first of its kind in the Southeast.
“Our program was developed as a direct response to the fast-paced growth and interest in craft brewing within the Southeast and nationally,” said Martin O’Neill, head of the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Hospitality Management. “At a time when new business start-ups were flooding onto the market, there was a distinct lack of educational opportunity to advance brewing know-how. In partnership with Oskar Blues, Auburn’s program seeks to provide interested parties with a laser focused and much more applied educational development opportunity.”
Graduates of Auburn’s program will be eligible to sit for the Institute of Brewing and Distilling’s, or IBD, General Certificate/Diploma of Brewing examinations. Located in the United Kingdom, the IBD is the world’s leading organization dedicated to the education and training needs of brewers and distillers.
“Auburn has enjoyed partnering with Oskar Blues, who epitomize the best in industry practice when it comes to the world of craft brewing,” added O’Neill. “Over the years, Oskar Blues has thrown its full weight behind the further development of Auburn’s program ensuring both its acceptance and relevance by the wider brewing community.”
Its initiatives include student and faculty development through practical immersion in the Oskar Blues business environment, real time access to Oskar Blues personnel and facilities, as well as their presence on campus with the program’s annual Oskar Blues-sponsored tailgate.
The tailgate is held each year on a home football Saturday. This year’s event will coincide with the announcement of the first Oskar Blues Brewery fellowship recipient.
Katechis will be honored later this year during the 2015 Hospitality Gala, the annual benefit for the Hotel and Restaurant Management program at Auburn.