Florida College ‘Brewing' Up Recipe for Hospitality Success With New Degree

What to Know

  • In January, the college will offer a 30-credit hospitality beverage science associate of science certificate.

Daytona State College is brewing up the only program of its kind in Florida: one in which the classroom is a pub, and the froth-filled lessons, a recipe for success.

In January, the college will offer a 30-credit hospitality beverage science associate of science certificate, which DSC President Tom LoBasso said was one of just a handful in the nation.

While microbreweries were once reserved as the watering holes of beer aficionados, in recent years they've become more mainstream. Growing industry demand fueled the college's decision to offer the program, LoBasso said.

"We saw that microbreweries were beginning to pop up in the area," LoBasso said. "Sometimes these programs can serve as a catalyst to help grow that, and being that hospitality is our biggest industry here, I thought maybe we can help create a niche for the hospitality industry."

Typically, about 40 percent to 60 percent of a restaurant's profits come from beverage sales, so it makes sense that everyone from servers to management understand the product, said Costa Magoulas, dean of DSC's College of Hospitality and Culinary Management. He estimated that among the area's 40,000 hospitality employees, at least 15,000 could benefit from beverage science training.

While DSC has been offering an introduction to craft beer and wine class for the past few years, the new credit certificate expands the college's offerings to 10 classes. Other courses include introduction to craft beer production, wine essentials, beverage operations management, and hospitality purchasing and controls.

"We hope this becomes a destination program for aspiring microbrewers and winemakers across the state and maybe even across the county," LoBasso said.

There is a thirst for skilled workers in the area, said Peter Szunyogh, owner and head brewer of Tomoka Brewing Co. When he opened his brewery 5 1/2 years ago, it was the only one in town. Since then, there has been "exponential growth" in the industry, he said.

Because demand for craft beer has increased beyond a niche market, Szunyogh said he expects the job outlook to be more favorable to those with training.

Alan Fawcett, owner and brewer at Daytona Beach Brewing Co., said that since his brewery opened in 2014, demand has increased.

"It's absolutely growing. It's still a very small percentage of the overall market," Fawcett said, adding that there were only a handful of brewers in the area. "But if you go to one of the more heavily populated cities in the United States, it can be 5 to 6 times the number that we have here."

Fawcett also said that should his brewery continue to grow, he would want someone with a background in the business.

"I really think it's a good thing to have here in the local community because we do have a number of breweries and finding people who are passionate about it and want to work in the industry is a really good thing," Fawcett said. "I know that some of the other brewers I've talked to in the area are very excited and interested in seeing what comes out of it."

DSC trains tomorrow's brewers in a $1.2 million lab that is half pub, half brewery. In a recent visit to the lab, students weren't making beer, they we're tasting it. Oddly, instructor Jeff Conklin noted, most of the students in this particular class don't like beer.

At least not yet.

Conklin, assistant chair of DSC's College of Hospitality and Culinary Management, has been brewing beer since the late '80s. He said the advanced training in beverage science would round out DSC's hospitality program.

"We have a beverage program at a college, which 10 years ago wouldn't have happened," Conklin said. "I don't think a hospitality program can be complete if it ignores this part of the industry."

During class, Conklin offered a brief overview of the beer to be sampled, which included everything from strong, dark ale brewed by Belgian Trappist monks, to a sour, fruit-infused Lambic from a brewery that's been around since 1822. Students noted the beer's color, appearance, flavor, and mouth feel, before assigning it a rating.

As future employees of the hospitality industry, students need to refine their palates so they can articulate a drink's characteristics to customers, Conklin said.

Some students said the beer was excellent, while one noted how it reminded her of soap. However, the class garnered more favorable reviews.

Margaret Blake, a 59-year-old hospitality management major, said it was interesting learning about the different flavors of beer, something she had no knowledge of before the class.

"I don't like beer, but I'm enjoying the class," she said.

Meri Bandy, a 41-year-old culinary arts major, called the instruction top-notch.

"I love it, the chefs, the program itself," Bandy said. "Their program here at Daytona State compared to Le Cordon Bleu in Orlando. It's pretty much the same, and the cost is like a quarter. The culinary program in Brevard County isn't anywhere near here."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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