For time immemorial, university students and the swilling of suds have been inextricably linked. So to actually get educational certification for sampling and making beer, well, who wouldn’t want to enroll?
Since 2013, Olds College, in central Alberta, has been making this student dream a reality with its two-year brewmaster program. Can you imagine sitting in a campus bar and someone asking what you’re studying? “Making beer, man.” “Yeah, right.”
Yet when you think about it, it may be the perfect program for turning out freshly-minted brewmasters, or apprentices, for all these microbreweries that keep popping up across North America. And what better place to do it than at a long-standing agricultural college surrounded by some of the world’s finest barley fields?
The program was nirvana for student Lisa, who had taken her love for microbrews on a cross-country beer-sampling tour, paired with her Littlest Beer Blog on the Prairie. In honour of International Women’s Day, she and other female students in the program have developed a hopped-up Calamity Jane Pale Ale.
It’s just one of half a dozen standard and seasonal beers that Olds College Brewery sells (in bottles, cans and growlers) in its little retail outlet, a few minutes west of the frenetic Highway 2 (QE 2), an hour north of Calgary. You can also find its products in some Alberta liquor stores, pubs and restaurants. My early verdict: Some decent beers but not yet threatening the best micro-brewmasters.
I just have one question. Is it too late for me to go back to school?
Olds College Brewery
Corner of Highways 27 and 2A, Olds, Alberta
Monday to Saturday noon-6 pm. Closed Sunday