Craft Brewing AcademyFrom Grain to Glass
Craft Brewing Academy"From Grain to Glass"
Craft Brewing Academy"From Grain to Glass"
Meet Our Instructors
Kristen Hoffbuhr, PhDBiology Associate Faculty, Skagit Valley College
My introduction to the Skagit Valley College Cardinal Craft Brewing program started as a “What if” question. I was intrigued when CCB instructor Bob Rock first proposed teaching a microbiology and chemistry lab course specifically designed for the brewing program. I am a Molecular Biologist by training, I have worked in research labs early in my career, and now I have a great job teaching biology and microbiology courses while managing the Biology prep lab at SVC. Brewing microbiology, however, was brand new to me.
Within a year of our first conversation, Bob Rock and I developed a hands-on lab techniques course, BIOL 150, which focuses on yeast and need-to-know microbiology and chemistry lab skills useful for any brewer. I was fortunate to participate in professional development training in brewing microbiology through the University of California Davis Extension program, and this training guided our development of the lab curriculum for BIOL 150.
Brewing microbiology is a constant source of scientific discovery for me, and I have enjoyed introducing students in SVC’s Cardinal Craft Brewing Program to microbiology and the technical lab skills used in brewing microbiology. Bob Rock and I frequently “tinker” with the lab curriculum to try new methods and experiment with different types of yeast. Every year, as I learn more about brewing microbiology, my research interests have expanded, and I have incorporated some components of brewing microbiology in my other courses at SVC. I am particularly interested in using molecular biology to address questions in brewing microbiology, such as using quick DNA sequencing or other DNA tests to identify bacteria and yeast present in brewing environments.
Besides work, brewing microbiology is often a conversation topic at my home. My spouse is an avid home brewer and a graduate of the SVC brewing program and yes, he was a student in my microbiology lab techniques course.
Favorite after work beverage? Favorites include Belgian wheat, the complex flavors of a Brettanomyces beer and I just recently discovered Saison style beers.
Brewery you are a fan of? To be honest, I love having a neighborhood craft brewery within walking distance of my house. We are frequent customers of Anacortes Brewery and of course, Cardinal Craft Brewing.
Tony SavoyOwner and Head Brewer, Flyers Restaurant and Brewery
Oak Harbor, WA
I was really lucky, I got started in the brewing industry four months after I turned 21. I was just starting to get into trying beers that had flavor. This was back in 1994 and there were not as many “Micro Breweries” as we called them back then before “Craft Brewery” was the term to describe the small brewers. Pyramid, Thomas Kemper, Red Hook, Bert Grant’s and Sam Adams were all readily available back then, so I used to try different six packs or 22oz of different styles. It was always exciting to try stuff that had flavor and I wondered how they were able to change the character of the beers in the process of brewing. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to school for as a major or career path, other than playing soccer, which is how I got there after graduating from High School in Hawaii. So, that is when I decided to take a break from college … that meant it was time to go to work. As luck would have it, a small brewery was opening in Mount Vernon, Washington, right up the street from my apartment. I went there every week, sometimes a couple times a week, to see if they were hiring. I had no experience in a brewery or tap room, but I was really interested in this new sort of booming industry in our region. I thought, how cool would it be to be 21 and work at a brewery?! Finally, I think they were sick of me bugging them for an application and I got an interview. I was hired later that week and started as a bartender in the tap room. Whenever there was down time, I would wander into the brewery and ask a million questions about the process like, “How do you know when to do xyz?” Looking back, I was probably pretty annoying, but I was fascinated with the process. Naturally, when there was a need for a cellar person, I was first in line to get back in there and clean kegs and tanks, etc. It never really felt like work. And, really to this day, if I am just alone working in the brewery, it still doesn’t. That was almost 26 years ago now.
People often ask me: How did you get involved in teaching brewing? Skagit Valley College is where I went to school all those years ago and I have stayed connected mostly through SVC’s Soccer program. When there was talk about starting SVC’s Cardinal Craft Brewing Academy, I was asked to be on the advisory committee to see if this was something the industry would support and if there was a need for trained brewers who could start at an entry level. From there, I was asked to help form the curriculum and then the next step was taking on the “in the Brewery Lab Instructor” role. I get to teach all of the hands-on brewery trainings! Again, it doesn’t really feel like work.
When I’m asked, What is single most important thing you teach your students? There are a few things, Be Clean. If you didn’t just sanitize it, do it again. There are a lot of ways to make great beer, so take what I show you and continue to learn. My way isn’t the only way to do it, but it has worked for me for over 20 years. I also tell them that this is the best industry for collaboration and full of great people willing to help at least on the brewer side. The sales side maybe a different story!
As our brewery celebrates its 15th Anniversary, there is a piece of advice that I would like brewers to know, when they are just starting out: You must be passionate about what you are doing. It is hard and only getting more competitive out there. I am training my competition! Haha. There are a lot more breweries now, compared to when I started. And, there are a lot of great beers. Try not to ever let it feel like work.
I am the CCB lab instructor, so I do all of the hands-on in brewery training where students take what they have learned from our great team of instructors and put it into practical use in our 1bbl pilot brewery.
Favorite after work beverage? I really don’t have a “favorite beer,” I go with seasonal or specialty beers usually. True to style clean beers is what I look for most often.
Brewery you are a fan of? There are so many breweries to like, and for different reasons. Some are really small and making great beer, and some are large and making beer at such scale and consistency that they have to be admired as well. That is what makes our industry so interesting. There is something for everyone!
Jason HarperOwner and Head Brewer, Stemma Brewing Company
My dad was a homebrewer in the 90s, so I grew up with the smell of brewing in the house. I have great memories helping him clean bottles and brew beer. When I turned 21, I asked him to teach me how to brew. From there, I brewed 40+ batches over the next year and I couldn’t get enough. I was at WWU at the time and wrote the original business plan for Stemma for a business class. I was telling my friends in 2011 that I was going to start a brewery when I graduated. Kim (my now wife) reminded me that I had no experience, and no money. Soon after graduation, I was hired on as a beverage sales representative for Dickerson Distributors. Over the next eight years, I gained a ton of industry experience and honed in what I wanted Stemma to be as a brewery.
I have taught BRW 101, 125 and I will be teaching BRW 135 this upcoming quarter. I hold an Advanced Cicerone certification and really enjoy education, history, and technical tasting of beer. I love how much is going on for the beer industry in Skagit Valley. Between Skagit Valley College’s Cardinal Craft Brewing, Skagit Valley Malting, and all the amazing breweries, we truly live in an amazing location for beer. It’s great that we have a program locally to train our next brewers. With an ever-growing brewery market, it’s more important than ever to have a good training and education when getting into the industry.
Favorite after work beverage: I really love a clean, crisp IPA. My absolute go-to is Crikey IPA from Reuben’s.
Brewery I’m a fan of: A few of my favorites are Reuben’s and Ecliptic Brewing. Deschutes and Dogfish Head are legends and I have always looked up to how they have shaped the industry.
Allen RhoadesOwner of Rockfish Grill and Anacortes Brewery
I had already put bread yeast in a jug of cider with less than successful results, so I was really excited to start brewing just after Christmas 1984, when my wife bought me a homebrew kit. I continued homebrewing, but began to brew with better results after I met my now business partner Rick Star. After entering a barley wine, and much to our surprise, winning best of show at the Western Washington Fair in the early 90s, we began building a one barrel brewery in my garage, and a business plan on an old 8081 pc. I attended the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago, and interned at the Weinkeller Brewery in Chicago, and the South Shore Brewery in Ashland, Wisconsin, where they still brew the Rhoades Scholar Stout.
While our original concept for a brewery in Kenmore, WA didn’t get off the ground, we applied the business plan when we purchased the Anacortes Brewhouse out of bankruptcy from the IRS in 2000. The opportunity to brew beer professionally, own my own business and be my own boss, in Anacortes, was more than I could have ever asked for.
The passion and creativity in our industry is unparalleled in any other. We have grown from dozens of breweries to thousands in the United States, and more around the world. The desire to make unique beer of differing styles is what drives all brewers. I enjoy bringing my 25 years of brewing knowledge and experience to Skagit Valley College’s Cardinal Craft Brewing Academy. As the Chairman of the Washington Beer Commission, I have become aware that the industry needs entry level brewers to help the industry continue to thrive. Beer has “saved the world” many times in human history and I am proud to be passing the brewing traditions and knowledge on. The goal of Cardinal Craft Brewing is to expose students to the artistry and creativity as well as the physical and intellectual challenges of our industry. It’s rewarding to see my former students working in the industry that I love. I teach with Matt Stromberg (SAAL Brewing), Bob Rock (Skagit Valley Malting, retired), Jason Harper (Stemma Brewing) and Tony Savoy (Flyers Brewing), along with other guest instructors and brewers from the area. My CCB classes include Brew 105, 107, 128 and I team up with Matt Stromberg on Brew 110.
After work beverage: I enjoy tasting beer after work, in moderation, for quality purposes. Usually a well-built pilsner style lager.
Brewery I’m a fan of: The Cardinal Craft Brewery of course! Where else can you find energized students brewing award-winning craft beers?!
Matt StrombergOwner of SAAL Brewing
I started home brewing in May of 1985. My cousins and I grew up hearing stories of my grandfather homebrewing during Prohibition and we decided it was something we should try to do. I stuck with it, enjoying the process and the creative elements inherent in making beer. In 1995, I was hired at McMenamins Pubs and Breweries. That was an exciting time, making the jump from home brewer to commercial brewer was a significant step, and McMenamins provided great opportunities for me to learn and grow. When I left McMenamins in 1999, I was the Brewery Manager for Washington, overseeing the production at five McMenamin’s Brewpubs in the Puget Sound Region. In February of 2000, I became the Head Brewer for Scuttlebutt Brewing Company in Everett, WA. The Bannan family started Scuttlebutt in 1996 and achieved a small but sustainable footprint in distributing their products. I was hired to handle the brewing responsibilities. During my tenure, we grew to distribute throughout Washington, Oregon, and Idaho with limited distributing in 22 states and seven countries. I left Scuttlebutt in 2018 to pursue my own project and Stanwood Artisan Ale & Lager, aka SAAL Brewing CO was born.
Craft Brewing challenges me physically, mentally, emotionally, and intellectually. It’s incredibly rewarding to watch someone drink something you have created and sharing it with others. Brewing is an ancient art and fermented beverages have been part of every human civilization. Knowing that we participate in that tradition is gratifying.
At SVC’s Cardinal Craft Brewing Academy, I teach Brew 110 Brewery Operations with Allen Rhoades. My portion of the course covers issues associated with medium to larger breweries.
After work beverage: I enjoy sipping a pint regularly after work in moderation and I’ve been known to sip a little whisky every now and then “to keep away the cough” to quote my grandfather.
Brewery I’m a fan of: There are so many good beers being made now, so it’s hard to pick just one. However, we’re pouring Weihenstephan Heffewissenbier Dunkel right now, and it’s amazing.