OSU creates cider course for entrepreneurs as industry grows

February 20, 2014
Sensory testing in Oregon State University's brewery. (Photo courtesy of OSU)
Sensory testing in Oregon State University's brewery gives students a foundation in beer flavor. (Photo courtesy OSU)

CORVALLIS, Ore. – As demand for hard cider grows, Oregon State University is offering a new workshop to help entrepreneurs start their own cider startup companies.

"I see this as a second coming for craft cider," said Aaron Brodniak, who will teach the workshop. “We've had a huge amount of interest in craft beer and we're starting to see growth in cider. There's a great need for education in the cider industry just as it is needed for beer.”

Brodniak, who is a brewery business consultant and former head brewer for Pyramid Brewery, said the local food movement has intensified interest in hard cider. And the numbers of new cideries illustrate the industry's growth. The Northwest Cider Association lists 39 cider makers in Oregon and Washington as members. Additionally, Portland hosts Cider Summit PDX, which draws more than 100 artisanal ciders from 29 vendors, according to its website.

OSU's new Craft Cidery Startup Workshop is a mix of online and onsite instruction. The online part will be offered from April 28 to May 9. The onsite portion will take place in Portland from May 12-16. Students will study the basics of business plans, market feasibility, equipment, local and national regulations, distribution and marketing. Students will learn how to connect with orchards to buy apples best suited for cider. OSU's Professional and Continuing Education (PACE) unit developed the course with help from Snowdrift Cider. Registration information is at PACE's website.  

On the beer front, OSU's PACE unit will continue to offer the following courses for craft brewers this spring and summer. They debuted last year, except for the Craft Brewery Startup Workshop II, which is new.

  • The Craft Brewery Startup Workshop I is an onsite workshop at the OSU-Cascades campus in Bend from Sept. 8-12. Serious entrepreneurs hoping to start a craft brewery or brewpub will learn the ins and outs of entrepreneurship from OSU instructors and Ninkasi Brewing Co. owners and leaders.
  • The Craft Brewery Startup Workshop II is April 21-May 9 online and May 10-13 at Widmer Brothers Brewing in Portland. Craft brewery entrepreneurs who are within a year of opening a brewery will work with consultants to develop a business plan. 
  • The Brewing Analytics Course Series begins May 1 online for six weeks and then continues at OSU's on-campus brewery in Corvallis from June 16-20. It will teach professional and hobbyist brewers the fundamentals of basic microbiology and its role in the brewing process. Concepts are first taught online, then in-person using high-end fermentation equipment.
  • Beer Proficiency Testing and Sensory Analysis is an in-person workshop July 15-18 at OSU's Food Innovation Center in Portland. It teaches students about malting, aroma standards, yeast, descriptive analysis and the brewing process.

"Since our unit is focused on workforce development, we've seen a growing need for training in entrepreneurship, specifically in the context of beer and cider businesses," said Chris LaBelle, the unit's director. "We want to produce entry-level and intermediate-level courses on entrepreneurship, providing students with more information about real startup costs and requirements. We also want to provide students access to successful industry leaders."

For more information and to register for any of the classes, visit PACE's website, call 541-737-4197 or contact them here

Author: Denise Ruttan
Source: Chris LaBelle