Alltech Brewing & Distilling Academy Launches in Lexington

alltech brewing

The college town of Lexington, Kentucky has a new institute of learning—one that schools its students in beer and spirits. The unique school will be the only brewing and distilling academy in the state, as well as the only one connected to an operating brewery and distillery — Alltech Lexington Brewing & Distilling Co.

The Alltech Brewing and Distilling Academy is launching this week, with a short course on raw materials. Instructors will eventually teach everything from weekend courses for homebrewers, to two-week courses for experienced technologists working in a commercial brewery or distillery. The school will also have a pilot brewery and distillery installed this summer for student use.

A $3 billion industry in Kentucky in 2014 generating 15,400 jobs, the bourbon and the spirits industry have drawn greater attention in recent years. Craft brewing is no exception. At a time when beer sales are flat, craft beer volume in the United States just hit a double-digit share of the market. A new craft brewery opens every 16 hours.

“Brewing and distilling used to be a rather quiet industry in Kentucky, but today, a new brewery or distillery opens every day,” said Dr. Pearse Lyons, president and founder of Alltech.  “Yet many of these new brewers and distillers are not formally educated in this craft, which can lead to compromised products. With the Alltech Brewing and Distilling Academy, we want our graduates to go on to create exciting beers and spirits that are of high quality and consistency so that the market continues to grow and is an important part of the state economy, and even the national economy.”

Boasting a new, state-of-the-art laboratory and classroom, students will benefit from the expertise and resources of Alltech, a billion-dollar global company with a core competency in yeast and fermentation technology that also ran its own Alcohol School for 25 years in Lexington and across the globe.

Much of that same experienced staff, many with master’s degrees in brewing and distilling or doctorates in biotechnology, yeast fermentation or other related fields, will teach at the Alltech Brewing and Distilling Academy. The Alcohol Textbook, a text that evolved over four editions, and soon became a key source for the beverage, fuel and industrial alcohol industries, was also published and co-authored by Dr. Lyons.

The school will also partner with different Kentucky universities in varying capacities. Projects and talks are already in the works with Western Kentucky University, the University of Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky University. More may follow as the academy further develops.

At some academy courses, company experts will discuss legal and regulatory issues, brand development, marketing, business management, social media and more. However, much of the learning will be hands-on due to the technical nature of the craft. Lessons taught will include how to handle yeast, clean and sterilize tanks and safely transport and store barrels. Students will don lab coats and eye protection for the lab, where they will make fermentations, examine different forms of yeast under the microscope, brew beer on a pilot brewery, work on a brewery’s bottling line and more.

“We’re really here to serve the little guys and the big guys,” said Phil Miller, director of the Alltech Brewing and Distilling Academy. “We want to welcome everyone here to learn, whether you are new in the field of brewing and distilling, or whether you have been in it for 35 years. We will have courses and pricing that should suit a wide variety of students. After all the planning and hard work of this school, we are thrilled to finally be opening the doors and sharing our passion of brewing and distilling with people. It truly is a science and an art, and one that is near and dear to Alltech.”

The Alltech Brewing and Distilling Academy is located at 475 Angliana Avenue in Lexington, Ky., and is part of the facility that also houses some of the brewing and bottling operations for Alltech Lexington Brewing & Distilling Co. Upcoming course dates and topics are still being determined, but prospective students are encouraged to visit to watch for course postings, or to contact academy staff. Academy leaders will exhibit at the American Distilling Conference in Louisville, Kentucky this weekend and discuss the new school.

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