Students learn wine and craft beverage management in new class

In the course, brewery owner Frank Kuhns covers a variety of topics including how to boost sales and attract customers. Photo provided

For the first time, George Mason University’s College of Education and Human Development is offering a class this fall to teach students the basics of wine and craft beverage management. The class, Introduction to Wine and Craft Beverage, allows students to learn about the beer, wine, cider, mead and distilled spirits industry, including the evolution of craft beverage.

While other classes at Mason have delved into different aspects of the beer, wine and alcohol industry, CEHD’s class focuses on the management side, which is increasingly relevant for students in CEHD’s School of Sport, Recreation and Tourism Management, said Robert E. Baker, CEHD interim dean.

“The wine industry and craft beverage industry in Virginia have been growing exponentially,” said Baker. “At the same time, there is an ongoing shortage of employees with expertise in the craft beverage and wine industry. This is a course tailored to help our students become extremely qualified and marketable in that industry.”

Frank Kuhns, an adjunct professor and owner of Settle Down Easy Brewery in Falls Church, Virginia, developed the curriculum for the class, which is delivered in a hybrid fashion of asynchronous lectures, projects, discussions, guest speakers and site visits. The culmination of the course will allow each student to take the Cicerone certification exam to be a beer server, said Kuhns. Students also go through the steps in opening up their own brewery or winery.

“I try to use real-world examples and problem-solving to expose the students to a deeper understanding of craft beverage and managing wineries, breweries and other venues related to craft beverage,” said Kuhns.

Students say the class is engaging and inspiring them to take more seriously careers in wine and craft beverage management.

Madison Ocansey, a senior majoring in tourism and events management, said she enjoys the dynamic nature of the class and its innovative projects. For example, said Ocansey, in one assignment, the students had to come up with their own holiday and then decide what food and drinks they would serve to match the celebration.

Sophia Tran, a junior also majoring in tourism and events management, said they were learning how to “effectively boost sales and be creative in attracting more customers.”

“We’re learning how to put the name of your business out there to get attention,” said Tran. “We got to go the professor’s brewery to see how beer is made, and he also showed us the blueprint of his business. It’s been really cool.”