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Craft brewing goes mainstream: North Island College leads the way

Bring your craft brewing dreams to life

When tourists think of visiting the Island, a few things probably come to mind.

The iconic natural scenery, activities like hiking, biking or surfing, and finally, the countless craft breweries they plan to hit up when they’re done.

Craft brewing has to be one of the most classic Van Isle careers you could pursue.

So now, North Island College is trying to meet the demand.

Their Craft Brewing and Packaging program helps hopeful entrepreneurs start their careers on the right foot.

Steven Thompson is a recent graduate, and he and others from the 2023 Winter semester got together in Courtenay to celebrate completing the program.

He told Blackpress media that he was inspired to enroll after hearing it would be partially taught by Adam Chatburn, an industry-famous craft brewer.

“Adam has been a brewing idol of mine for years. When I heard he was running this program that I was already intrigued by, I was all in,” said Thompson.

During the course, students gain industry experience through partnerships with breweries all over the Island.

Some of their partners are Loveshack Libations Brewing in Qualicum, Ace Brewing in Courtenay, Dog Mountain Brewing in Port Alberni and Beach Fire Brewing in Campbell River.

“The program was a great experience. I especially enjoyed every Sunday when we visited a different brewery to brew new beers.,” said Thompson.

“As part of the graduation ceremony, we are showcasing these new beers that are now being offered by the partner breweries,” said Thompson.

John Gouse, one of the head brewers at Arrowsmith Brewing in Parksville, previously graduated from the program.

He went from packaging to head brewer to managing the brewhouse himself.

He says there’s definitely room for more people to get work in craft breweries right now.

“I’ve found that it’s almost always hard to find staff in the industry. Many people have no idea that working in the brewing industry can be a viable career,” said Gouse to the Comox Valley Record. NIC’s brewing programs are the place to start for those considering mixing up their career.