Father and Son Among First Graduating Class of SDSU’s Business of Craft Beer Program

Father and son Kelly and Kyle Hamann

Father and son Kelly and Kyle Hamann

The family that plays together stays together. And the family that takes a professional certificate course in the Business of Craft Beer may one day open a brewery together.

In mid-August 2014, Kelly Hamann and his son Kyle will join 25 other students to celebrate their status as the first-ever graduating class of SDSU College of Extended Studies’ year-old and wildly popular program. Certificates will be awarded, the program’s instructors will speak, and beer will flow.

Kelly and Kyle shared their thoughts on the Business of Craft Beer program, how it shaped their plans for the future, and gave them a new respect for beer and for each other.

What do you like about SDSU’s Business of Craft Beer certificate program?
The instructors are passionate about the subject. All of our fellow students were there because they wanted to be, learning about something they care about. The guest lecturers, hands-on learning, and interactions with our new peers are something you just cannot get by reading books. Over the course of this program, I’ve realized what a fantastic industry it is and am sure I could never have understood that without being in the program.

How do you plan on applying the knowledge you gained?
I own a business information systems integration and custom programming company which covers integrated accounting, inventory control, manufacturing and customer relations management (among other things) for small- and medium-sized businesses. I learned many reasons why a system tailored specifically to the needs of a brewery would be very beneficial.  In the classes they talked about the reporting to federal and state authorities, accurate inventory to avoid having outdated or insufficient beer, recipe management, raw materials stocking, exact reproduction of the same beer and many other topics. I expect the understanding I gained from this program will help me to provide better, more complete service to breweries.

Kyle: My dad and I are getting more interested all the time in building our own brewery together. We’re working on a plan now on how to make it happen. With what we learned from professionals in the industry, we’ll be much more capable in many areas.

What pearls of wisdom did you come away with in Exploring Craft BeerBeers Styles, Brewery Startup or some of the other classes?
I have always enjoyed beer, but I had no idea of the breadth and complexity until I took these classes. On a personal level, I think I will be a better host to my friends and business associates. I have learned what makes beer a perfect complement to many different foods, including desserts! I have learned how important it is to make only outstanding beers and to make sure they are properly stored and served. The program emphasized keeping the beer at the correct temperatures, the importance of regular maintenance of the lines, “beer clean” glasses and everything else to do with an outstanding brewery/brewpub experience. At this point if I would get a bad or incorrect-tasting beer, I would understand all the reasons it could happen. I would not assume it was a bad beer just because it was bad at one location.

What benefits did you gain by taking the courses together as a family?
Kelly: This is one of the main reasons I took the program. Kyle has been interested in beer for a long time and his passion for good beer is what got me interested. We have always done many things together but neither of us thought we could wind up in business together. I’ve gained even more respect for him as we discuss what was covered in the program. Kyle embodies the San Diego brewery attitude and it has rubbed off on me.

Kyle: Being able to share one of my passions with my dad has been very rewarding. We can now have in-depth, educated conversations when it comes to making better beer. Taking these classes together has also given us similar background knowledge, which will be helpful in decision-making when it comes to business ideas.

How do you think the networking aspect of the program will benefit you?
Kelly: I expect many of the people I met in the program and through the program will be helpful in both my information-systems goals and eventually helping us to start a brewery. Many of the people I met aren’t in the industry yet, but most of them want to be. I know some of them will be starting breweries and others will be working in all different parts of the industry.
Kyle: The networking from the program will help when the time comes for us to do some hiring.  We have come to know lots of very knowledgeable and capable people who share our passion for beer and will make excellent employees.

Would you recommend the Business of Craft Beer program to others?
I recommend the program to anyone with an interest in beer. At the very least, it will give them an understanding of the many varieties and how to really appreciate them. If they’re interested in employment in the industry, I can’t imagine that it will not be helpful in finding work. Anyone in the industry will benefit from the standardization of beer knowledge.

Who do you look up to in the industry?
There are many people that I admire and have a lot of respect for in this industry. To start with, I have a lot of respect for all of the instructors who taught us in the program. I’m certain that not even one of them did it because of being paid to do it.  All of them were probably too busy already with their current jobs, but they took the time to share their particular area of expertise with us. I’m sure “Dr.” Bill was way too busy for this, yet he took the time to give us his special insight to beer and how to pair it with foods. I’m sure Scott Blair took on a class to share his insights with us and help the industry as a whole by producing good ambassadors. I know Matt Johnson from Helms took on the class because he would have wanted to have the same class before he started. He was very open and shared his experiences that could save us lots of money and aggravation. I could go on with everyone else who’s involved in the program. I believe all of them would be willing to take more time with any of us to discuss anything to do with the brewing industry and our plans.

I also admire all the pioneers in the industry who started their businesses with mostly just a passion for good beer.

How has taking this certificate program changed your life?
So far, it has given me a wide vision of the industry as a whole. It has given me a better understanding of my son and an appreciation for his more inclusive attitude about business. It is the start to a new chapter in my life that gets me excited about work.