How Lakewood is Helping Build the Future of Dallas Brewing

While it is imperative to have background knowledge before working in any field, sometimes actually getting your hands dirty — literally, as Dr. Dylan Parks explained to Brewer, in the case of brewing — is the best way to prepare for a career. 

“You get to meet the professionals who work there, see this fantastic process first-hand, and build personal connections,” he said as the former Lakewood Brewing lab technician turned professor at The University of Texas at Arlington is now leading a new Brewing and Fermentation Science Certificate program at the school. 

“This can also give those who are interested a chance to feel out the industry to see if this is something that truly calls to them,” Parks said.

Designed to teach students from the ground up, Dr. Parks has developed a curriculum that will include The Science of Brewing, Fermentation Science, Brewing Lab and Sensory Evaluation, QA/QC, and Product Design. There will also be a requirement for a 16-hour internship at a local fermentation or brewing facility, for which Lakewood is one of the first to participate.

“It’s important to have an educated and well-trained staff to ensure the best quality product,” Parks said. “In addition, having employees that know how to critically think and solve problems can improve efficiency and help to quickly resolve issues that can arise throughout the brewing process.” 

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The development of this program has been in the works for a couple of years, Parks noted. The idea, where some great ideas come from, came about when Parks was enjoying some after work beers with a few colleagues. 

“The chair of the biology department, Dr. Clay Clark, kind of pitched the idea to me since he knew I had previously worked in the industry,” Parks said. “Of course, I jumped at it right away since this is something that I’m very passionate about and it sounded like fun. 

It began with some internal discussions of program goals, feasibility, and how it could be offered through the university. It was decided that it would be best to start out as a certificate program offered through UTA’s Division of Enterprise Development. 

Parks developed the curriculum for more than a year while looking to establish industry connections in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area to support the ‘hands-on’ and internship components of the program.

“Lakewood Brewing Company was the first to throw their hat into the ring,” he said. “From there, it has just been a matter of coordinating participant’s schedules and planning for learning work at those facilities.”

Parks would encourage any brewery to reach out to their local colleges and universities to see if there are any opportunities there. 

“While many of them may not have a brewing and/or fermentation program, they could surely redirect interested parties to relevant scientific resources — maybe a class here or there, literature, or such,” Parks said. “The brewing industry is like a big family, and usually always willing to help each other out. I would like to extend that attitude in regard to education, because if that means there is more quality beer on the shelf, that is a win for everyone.”

Partnerships with local industries, whether they are big and well-renowned, or small and just starting up, are important to develop strong leadership in the community, Parks added.

“I’d love to see DFW become a hot spot for craft beer, and I think we can do that by partnering industry with education,” he said.

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