Student’s View of SDSU’s Inaugural Nine-Day Brewery Startup Camp: ‘I’m in a beer Disneyland!’

Bill Sysak

Beer camper Lidia DaSilva with instructor “Dr.” Bill Sysak at Half Door Brewing.

Last summer, students came from all over the U.S as well as Mexico, Brazil, Columbia, Venezuela, and Australia to partake in San Diego State University’s Craft Beer Connoisseur Camp (intensive preparation for industry exams such as Cicerone® and BJCP) or Brewery Startup Camp (everything you need to know to launch a brewery). Each offered eight days of intensive instruction by local industry superstars such as “Dr.” Bill Sysak, George Thornton and Dave Adams; and one free day to explore San Diego.

The camps were a brand new offering from SDSU’s popular Business of Craft Beer program, which provides hands-on training for those looking to enter or already working in the brewing industry on the business side, rather than the brewing side of operations. To make the program more accessible to beer aficionados worldwide, SDSU launched Craft Beer Education Camp. Wildly enthusiastic reviews from students indicate the concept is a hit.

Student/camper Lidia DaSilva of Costa Mesa attended both camps — Craft Beer Connoisseur and Brewery Startup — and answered some questions about her experience.

What is your connection to beer?
Enthusiast and passionate about beer.

How did you hear about SDSU’s Brewery Startup Camp?
I researched online for the best craft beer classes in California.

What was your goal in attending?
To brew my own craft beer (stout).

Has your knowledge of craft beer been expanded exponentially?
Yes, very much.

Were the offsite visits particularly illuminating – getting a behind-the-scenes look at the industry?
Yes, very exciting but also overwhelming of how I would accomplish having this myself.

Did you pick up any solid ideas about how to run your brewery?
Yes, the idea to open a little place with a few tanks to start. I have the idea of cost, employees, space and volume of product and match the supply. I have run a cocoa bean farm in Brazil (Bahia) so with the knowledge of both together, I believe I will come out with an amazing homemade stout beer!

What did you like most about the craft beer camps?
The knowledge, the information, the incredible tasting, meeting new people in the business, and hanging out with amazing professionals in the beer industry.

Do you have a fond memory, small-world moment, or any other anecdote to share?
The visits to the successful breweries and seeing the big tanks. I felt small next to them and it surprised me — like I’m in a beer Disneyland!

What did you do on your free day to explore San Diego?
Beer tasting.

Would you recommend SDSU’s Craft Beer Camp to others?
Definitely.

Save the Dates for 2017: Craft Beer Connoisseur Camp is July 26–August 3, Brewery Startup Camp is August 4–12. For more information, please visit neverstoplearning.net/craftbeercamp.