North Texas' craft brewing industry is rapidly changing, and a new fall course at the University of Texas at Dallas aims to teach students about the business of beer.
Richard Harrison is an associate professor at UTD's Naveen Jindal School of Management who earned a Ph.D. in business from Stanford University. After 32 years teaching classes on organizational theory and management at the Dallas university, Harrison decided to apply his expertise to a burgeoning local industry: beer.
The first-time class, entitled "The Craft Brewing Industry in Texas," will cover the history of craft beer in the U.S. before diving into the logistical aspects of running a brewery, from financing, competition and economics to production technologies/methods, distribution and legal issues, Harrison says. Though the class will not include beer drinking -- per university policy, he says -- it will feature guest speakers from the local craft brewing scene, such as UTD alumni Michael Peticolas and Joel Malone of Peticolas Brewing Co. and Bishop Cider Co., respectively.
"The way [craft beer] is growing exponentially and becoming more and more important economically, there's a real need to pay attention to the business aspects," says Harrison, a devout Belgian beer drinker.
"People can't just be doing this by trial and error and hoping things work. They've got to learn how to increase their probability of success."
Harrison's class is now one of two in the area that prime students for a career in craft beer. Eastfield College in Mesquite started a Journeyman Brewer course in 2015 that focuses on the beer-making process and embeds students at local breweries to get hands-on experience. While the course material doesn't overlap much, Harrison sees his course as a nice compliment to the one at Eastfield. And so do brewers.
One of the issues the local beer scene faces is that there aren't enough experienced brewers and personnel in Dallas-Fort Worth to fill the increasing number of positions available in the industry. In 2011, North Texas was home to about 10 brewing operations; today there at least 60 with more on the way. Roughly 95 percent of Eastfield's Journeyman students reportedly get hired after they've taken the course.
"Knowing the business side of thing is very important to the health of the craft beer industry in Texas," says Wim Bens, founder of Lakewood Brewing Co. and one of Harrison's guest speakers in the upcoming semester. "The more people that can get the entire picture or be able to insert themselves in an organizations, at least knowing the basic of brewers financing, will definitely help the industry."
The "Craft Brewing Industry in Texas" class will be offered Tuesdays from 7 to 9:45 p.m. during the University of Texas at Dallas fall semester, which begins Aug. 21. The course is open to UTD post-graduate students and the public. For more information, contact Richard Harrison.