Growth of craft beer, wine and distilleries leads to new degree at Northampton Community College

Cris Collingwood//May 3, 2022

Growth of craft beer, wine and distilleries leads to new degree at Northampton Community College

Cris Collingwood//May 3, 2022

The growth of the craft beer, wine and spirits industry has led Northampton Community College to offer a Craft Distillery degree for those interested in a career in the industries. 

Rebecca Heid, associate professor of Hospitality Management for NCC said the college began offering Fundamentals of Beer, Wine, and Spirits in 2018. The original idea was to continue growing programs for each of those, she said. 

But when Chad Butters, founder of Eight Oaks Farm Distillery, gave the students a virtual tour of the distillery during the pandemic, a relationship began and NCC began the development of Craft Distillery. 

Heid said job data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the “breweries, wineries and distilleries” sector from 2012-2019, has been adding jobs at an 11.1% annual rate, compared with 1.7% for nonfarm jobs. 

 Data also shows a large movement toward small and family-owned craft beverage companies. 

  “While working with Chad Butters and Eight Oaks, we realized that there was not a credit program in the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions for distillation. This unique degree brings together agriculture, science, and education,” she said. “On top of that, it professionalizes the industry.” 

Heid said Elaine Pivinkski, owner of Franklin Hills Vineyards, has also been a supporter of the new program. There are also two breweries and a Meadery within walking distance of the Fowler Center. Just in the last two years River Farms added WarDog distillery to their craft portfolio.  

The growth in the craft industry supports the need for a degree like this, she said. 

“We hope to attract students that are interested in the craft beverage industry, that want to work at a distillery, or might want to own and operate a distillery in the future.” 

The degree is for students looking for opportunities including:  

  • Brewer   
  • Distiller    
  • Maltster   
  • Process Engineer   
  • Quality Assurance 
  • Quality Control  
  • Production Planner  
  • Supply Chain Management   
  • Tasting Room Manager  
  • Sales & Marketing   

NCC is holding information sessions at its Fowler Campus in southside Bethlehem, Eight Oaks Farm Distillery in New Tripoli and virtually. 

The session at Eight Oaks will be Saturday, May 14 from 3 to 5 p.m. The Fowler session will be Monday, May 16 from 6 to 8 p.m. and the virtual session will be Thursday, June 14 from 6 to 7 p.m. 

For more information go to https://info.northampton.edu/craft-distillery-infosessions.