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Government & Politics

Microbrew Bill to Allow On-Campus Breweries

MSU Billings

The microbrew craze is hitting some of the campuses in the Montana University System. Two campuses offer programs to teach brewing and a bill allowing campus’ to have an academic brewer license and to have a small sampling room, is making its way through Montana State Legislature.

The bill currently only includes Flathead Valley Community College after the state Senate amended the bill, striking Montana University System from the language and adding FVCC, because the Senate Business and Labor Committee didn’t know that Montana State University Billings already has a brew program.

The course at MSUB could benefit from being added to the bill, allowing portions of the class that are conducted off-campus, to then be offered on-campus and possibly extended.

State Representative Don Jones R-Billings objected to MSUB being left off the bill, stating that “This is a case were Montana State University Billings does have a program.” Jones and the bill’s sponsor, Representative Frank Garner R-Kalispell, successfully convinced the House to reject the Senate’s changes on an 84-to-16 vote and send the bill to a conference committee to add MSU Billings to the bill along with FVCC.

Currently, MSUB offers a Certificate in Craft Brewing and Fermentation through their extended campus, using internships at ten different local breweries and distilleries as a way to fulfill the hands-on portion of the certificate requirement.

According to the MSUB extended campus, the program is a “16-credit undergraduate program that provides an overview of biochemistry, microbiology, technology, and business of craft brewing industries (beer, spirits and wine). The program was developed with input of industry professionals and is aimed at developing a skilled workforce for the burgeoning craft brewing industries in Montana. Courses include lab work, hands-on brewing, industry speakers and an opportunity to gain experience with a local craft brewing business through an internship or special project.”