Eastern Michigan University collaboration helps diversify brewery industry

Eastern Michigan University collaboration helps diversify brewery industry

YPSILANTI, MI – Professors from Eastern Michigan University's Fermentation Science program are collaborating with Midtown Detroit, Inc and Smith & Co. Detroit along with Nain Rouge Brewery on a Detroit-based training school to offer underrepresented students an opportunity to break into the brewery industry. Participants will have hands-on practical training in skills like brewing, packaging, inventory, canning, and marketing for entry-level positions. The Nain Rouge Brewing School is located at 666 Selden in Detroit.

According to a recent survey conducted by the Brewers Association, 88 percent of the people who own craft breweries are white, while American Indian or Alaska Native make up four percent, Asian and Hispanic both at two percent, and Black brewery owners make up one percent.

EMU professors Cory Emal and Gregg Wilmes jumped at the opportunity of collaborating on the training school because they understand the need for more diversity in the growing field. "The brewing industry has historically been one that hires and trains on an apprenticeship model, and that's a system that, often unintentionally, perpetuates a division between in-groups and out-groups," said Emal.


The school opened with the idea of providing hands-on and cost-effective training. The program combines hands-on brewing in a facility that Midtown Detroit, Inc. funded with support from Invest Detroit and DTE Energy Foundation, master brewer training donated by Smith & Co. Detroit along with Nain Rouge Brewery, and the science training by EMU. Field trips to other local breweries and craft cocktail bars are also part of the program. 

Jon Carlson, founding member of 3Mission Partners said, "the ultimate goal is to diversify the beer space and views this as an opportunity to create a pipeline towards employment and entrepreneurship. "We don't want to just create another training facility, but to find someone from Detroit to be the next great brewer that continues to push and explore the craft beer industry," said Carlson.

The partners are also planning to enhance training with weekend home brewers camps for Detroiters who would like additional support to improve their skills or launch a facility.

"We hope that some of these students will choose to attend EMU to seek further education and a deeper understanding of the science of fermentation, but our primary goal with this project is to help provide enhanced opportunities and career prospects for underrepresented groups," said Emal. "By helping to build diversity within this industry and bring attention to the depth of the scientific principles involved in producing beer and other fermented products, we hope to attract more students into this relatively new and uncommon field of study."

The training program, which admits four interested individuals, requires a four-day commitment for 12-weeks. Midtown Detroit, Inc. is accepting applications in July for the next class of four beginning in September. Individuals only need a high school degree or GED to participate.

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