Studying the art of brewing beer!

The universities of applied sciences in Berlin and Munich are now offering courses in brewing and beverage technology.

SCHÄFER Container Systems supports these two teaching and research institutions. Ranked first in the list of countries worldwide that brew the greatest number of different beers is Germany. So it’s hardly surprising that German master brewers have such a good international reputation. Students aiming to graduate in the art of brewing and take advantage of these excellent career opportunities only need to choose between Berlin and Munich, as the technical universities in these two cities actually offer a course in brewing and beverage technology. Such a course has existed at the TU Berlin since around 1930, and the Royal Prussian College of Agriculture already carried out research and teaching on this subject. This was integrated into the newly founded TU Berlin after the Second World War and is now part of Faculty III. The course itself is extremely popular. Between 150 and 300 applications are received each year, with usually around 20 of them – in exceptional cases a maximum of 30 – successfully gaining places on the course.

Though originally developed as a “Diploma” course in the traditional German sense, it is now subdivided into bachelor and master’s degrees, with a place on the master’s course being guaranteed after successful completion of the bachelor. In Munich, the capital of Bavaria, the state where beer is classified as a staple foodstuff, the course has been in existence since 1865. Around 500 students are studying for the bachelor and master qualifications. However, there is also a “Diploma Master Brewer” course, which is focussed entirely on the art of brewing beer. In the research brewery at the Weihenstephan School of Life Sciences, a faculty of the TU Munich, around 150 brews at 700 litres each are produced every year in experiments or student assignments, some of which are also put on sale. Despite the broad range, the quantities are of course limited, which makes the beer even more popular.


Practically based and extremely well structured

Depending on the envisaged qualification and location, the course duration is between 6 and 7 semesters. Semesters abroad are not compulsory, but at 18 months, the work placement proportion is relatively high. “The course is very practice based so that theory and application are closely linked from the outset. Before enrolling, all our students must have gained some practical experience in a brewery, which will then be intensified further during the course. The master brewer diploma course requires work placement experience of at least one year or a completed apprenticeship. For the bachelor, requirements are work placement of six weeks before the course and six more during, while for the master‘s, it’s these 12 weeks plus six more during the course,” explains Dr. Johannes Tippmann, head of the research brewery and the Weihenstephan testing lab for beverage dispensing equipment. In general, a basic knowledge of economics, food chemistry, mathematics, biology and physics are among the most important subjects at both universities. Depending on the specialisation, subjects such as business administration or nutritional physiology are added. „The course not only covers the classical engineering subjects, such as mathematics, process engineering, thermodynamics or physics, but also chemistry, microbiology and specific brewery technology basics. This is followed by more subject-specific studies. Experience has shown how important practical craftsmanship is for students. Over the next few years, we will therefore be moving in earlier semesters to applying theoretical knowledge in practice,“ says Prof. Dr.-Ing. Frank-Jürgen Methner, head of brewing in Berlin, who himself also has a practical background, after almost 20 years as Head of Technology and Development and Head of Technology and Quality Goods at the Bitburger Brewery Group.

Good prospects are included

Tippmann: “Today, there are graduates from Weihenstephan working in almost every major international brewery, such as Krombacher and Veltins in Germany, for example. The internships open doors to future jobs for most students, even before they finish their courses. In the supply industry in particular, there’s great demand for our students worldwide. In general, the prospects for graduates are very good. On the one hand, German universities rightly enjoy a very good reputation worldwide in terms of the depth of their education. On the other hand, the broad level of knowledge taught during their studies means that graduates are increasingly becoming attractive prospects for foreign companies. „Students gain a deep insight into the brewing process and production, as well as into many of the peripheral areas involved. After the Bachelor‘s degree, 80 to 90 percent complete the Master‘s degree and then work in industry, with a smaller proportion going on to achieve a doctorate. In the end, about 30 percent actually work in breweries, the majority in the supply industry, two to three percent actually set up their own companies,“ says Methner.


Kegs – just as important as the beer

In addition to scientific skills, students also learn all the manual craft skills required for the beverage production process. An important aspect is always the quality assurance of the products, as well as high hygiene standards. In order to bring more functionality to beverages, long-term processes are required in which food-design as well as beverage design have a role to play. As returnable containers, especially for the industrial filling and sterile storage of beverages, KEGs are now well established and are also used by the TUs, both of which are supported by SCHÄFER Container Systems. As a manufacturer of reusable container systems for the beverage industry, SCHÄFER has a great interest in research in this field and has been providing KEGs to the universities for years. Methner: „A beer must not only taste good, but also look appetizing and, best of all, be good for you. The flavour and the ingredients, such as the iron content, must not be detrimentally affected by the sensor technology. Taste and colour are just as important as the nutrients in the beer. The packaging also plays an extremely important role. The condition of the beer must not change during transport and storage. This can only be ensured by selecting suitable packaging materials.”

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Julia Niederer