The feature of the three-week Certificate course or the nine-week Diploma course is that we ensure the students travel to the different breweries in the region. This in my opinion is one of the most invaluable parts of our training. We get a whole variety of students with a wide range of experience. The opportunity of mixing with different brewing professional in their own brewery appeals to them all. The person who has never worked in a brewery will get to see the process in reality for the first time. The more experienced student will see how other people do things.

What breweries they see depends on what they want to learn. We encourage the student to focus on what they want to experience and we try and match a particular brewery. So, for instance, if they want to see how a lauter tun works we try and get them to go to a brewery which uses one. If language is a barrier, we will try to pair the student up with a fellow, on the placement visit.

Many breweries are within the Tyne and Wear region so visiting one is a relatively simple journey via the Metro system. If you do have your own car then there are many more opportunities to get out into the wonderful countryside and see both brewery and scenery. We have breweries in wonderful settings.

The benefit of a placement is that it moves the student into the real world. It allows them to see a working brewery and to get involved in that brewery. We prepare them to physically work, so they are actually experiencing what it is like to work. No matter how many hours you can spend teaching students the nature of brewing – doing and seeing it in action is invaluable. They see what really happens, the large variety of equipment used to basically do the same thing. They see the work pattern and gauge the process as it happens. It also gets them to speak to the hosting brewer who quite often gives them the highs and mostly lows of starting and running a brewery.  They will observe different ways of brewing and gain what is good and (perhaps) bad practices. We allow the student to go on their own or in a pair without any involvement from Brewlab. This so that the hosting brewer can be honest and open.

The number placements opportunities depend on the length of the course. The Certificate course there is only time for two placements whilst on the longer Diploma course there are many more.  Diploma students are required to do a report on one placement and will be expected to take and analyse a number of samples.

This commercial placement is quite unique to any craft brewing course in the UK. It helps our students to experience the real world and for them to further understand the nature of brewing, outside of the classroom. It gives them brewing experience from other brewers in their own work place. This exposure could only be possible by the help and patience of our partner breweries. I am forever grateful to them for assisting in this.

Article written by Brian Yorston, Training Manager at Brewlab.

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