KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A group of West Michigan college students are seeing national success in the world of competitive brewing.
Kalamazoo Valley Community College came in third this summer at the U.S. Open College Beer Championship.
Student brews won silver in the IPA category and gold for the best stout.
A variety of student beers are submitted to the competition in the spring and results are announced in June.
Caelan Deater was one of the students who helped with the winning brews. He is working on a four-year program through a partnership between KVCC and Western Michigan University.
“I had a bunch of biology and chemistry credits but no real idea what to do with it,” he said. “I didn’t want to work in a lab. I didn’t really care for desk work either, and my adviser told me about the program and I figured I would give it a shot.”
The brewing program also offers a certificate or an associate’s degree option.
According to instructor Aaron Ross, many students are already turning their success into a career with breweries in Michigan and across the country.
“To have students coming out of a program with a medal already under their belt, it’s really kind of a moment of pride,” Ross said. “And to be able to walk out there and show, hey, you know what, we’re really doing something special.”
Instructors and students are back in the lab checking equipment and preparing for the new semester this fall.
Brewing program faculty member Brian Lindberg says the competition provides students with advice from top professionals.
“They really look forward to getting to see how their beers did and get the feedback from the industry partners,” Lindberg said.
Emily Lechowicz will be competing in 2020 competition and is excited to start working in the brewing lab.
“Being a part of the competition in the brewing school program is a really cool opportunity and it gives me a lot of inspiration for the future,” Lechowicz said.
Students can still enroll in the fall program. The first day of class is Sept. 3.