Students ‘learn by brewing’

Citrus College students now have the option of enrolling in a beer etiquette course designed to educate adult learners in brewing and restaurant operations at Innovation Brew Works located in Cal Poly Pomona’s Innovation Village.

Innovation Brew Works will be offering a non-credit, face-to-face course aimed at adult learners, through Cal Poly Pomona’s College of the Extended University, an extension school intended for personal and professional skills enhancement. Official admission into Cal Poly Pomona is not required and students must be at least 21 years old to enroll.

“There’s so much education and knowledge to be had with beer and beer brewing, so we figured what better way than to actually bring it to an educational facility,” said Koby Harris, head brewer at Innovation Brew Works.

The Cal Poly Pomona Foundation, a non-profit organization whose primary mission is to support programs at the university donated $700,000 to construct a laboratory where students engage in an interactive, hands-on brewing experience.


Koby Harris (far right), head brewer at Innovation Brew Works meets with attendants on the Grand Opening of the cafe Feb. 20. (Nestor Cruz/Clarion)

In an expanding craft beer industry and high demand for brewers, job opportunities are increasing. Employers are seeking more qualified candidates with actual experience in the brewing field.

“The whole philosophy of Cal Poly is learning hands-on, actually getting experience in the field before you go out and try to find a job,” said Aaron Neilson, director of dining services for the Cal Poly Pomona Foundation. “Perhaps you have gone through our beer program and you can say, ‘I know hands-on how it all works.’”

Student outcomes in the course include: demonstrating mastery of the carbonation and nitrogenation process; production of yeast strains; and the development of hop and malt blends. The curriculum will allow students to survey the history of beer; learn about food pairings with specific brews, tasting and appreciation, and its development. Students may also delve into other subjects involved in the course such as agriculture, engineering and science.

“There’s so much science behind brewing,” Harris said. “Each ingredient has its own chemical composition and they all react and act in different ways.”

The opportunity Innovation Brew Works is offering has drawn the attention of not just beer enthusiasts but also students who see this as a unique learning experience.

“I have actually considered taking the course and look forward to it,” said Jeanette Squillace, former Citrus College student, who began attending Cal Poly Pomona spring quarter. “I like the fact of having [a brewery] on campus…and that it is available to students.”


Just a few of the books that go into depth on brewing and the science behind it. (Nestor Cruz/Clarion)

Innovation Brew Works has been open since September 2014 serving brews from affiliates such as Ritual Brewing Co. from Redlands, Dale Bros. Brewery in Upland and Alosta Brewing Co. in Covina.

Innovation Brew Works had a Grand Opening on Friday, Feb. 20 where they were able to finally present seven of their own craft beers to the public after a long battle with endorsements, licensing and permitting rights that prevented the facility from brewing their own beer.

Beers produced at Innovation Brew Works are named after prominent figures in the city of Pomona and the university, such as the “Dr. Ortiz Orange Whitbier,” a beer honoring the former president of Cal Poly Pomona. Oranges and barley, key ingredients for the brewing process of some of Innovation Brew Works’ beers are grown at the Spadra Ranch, an off-campus plot of land.

The “Culture of Micro-Brewery and Handcraft Beers” course will be taught over a period of four two-hour Saturday sessions from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Classes will start April 11 through May 2 for $150 per student.

“Come in and have a good time, but we are not producing beer so people can party and just get messed up,” Harris said. “We are here so there is actually education and learning behind it.”