Craft Brewing and Malting program student Ellie Hadley plans to use her newfound skills and knowledge to set up a distillery in Port Alberni. Photo supplied by NIC

Craft Brewing and Malting program student Ellie Hadley plans to use her newfound skills and knowledge to set up a distillery in Port Alberni. Photo supplied by NIC

NIC wants to make North Island region a brewing and malting hub

New program grads already entering industry

The craft beer scene on Vancouver Island is about to get an influx of new talent thanks to North Island College’s new Brewing and Malting program.

The program gives students access to people already working in the industry, including access to Campbell River’s Merecroft Village Brew Pub and Restaurant to help develop hands-on skills and building on foundations from previous courses.

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The first grads of the new program are already in demand, according to a release from the college. They’re finding work in a growing industry and even starting their own businesses.

One of those students is looking to start her own distillery business in Port Alberni. Ellie Hadley is planning a brewery addition to her business.

“The program takes you right into the industry and you can learn all about the equipment and operations of a brewery,” said Hadley. “You also learn about the business applications as well, including going through the licensing process.”

Student Jon May will be working in a Comox brewery after graduation, and he said that the technical and theoretical blend of training provided by the program really gave him a leg up to get into the industry.

“The best part is I walked into a brewing setting and could hold a conversation with a professional brewer,” said May.

The industry is only growing. According to the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch, sales from micro-breweries topped $32 million in the end of 2019/20.

NIC’s goal is to establish a permanent brewing location for the program in the future, which will make the college and north island region a hub for brewing and malting. NIC is only one of two schools in B.C. to offer such a program.

Bob Haugen, NIC Continuing Education manager, sees a bright future in the program too.

“The fact that our students are already receiving job offers and making plans to work in the industry is enormously encouraging,” said Haugen. “We have an excellent instructor and a program that produces qualified grads.”

Applications for the fall are open, visit www.nic.bc.ca/craft-brewing for more info.

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marc.kitteringham@campbellrivermirror.com

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