Michael Lewis and brewing tanks
History of the UC Davis Master Brewers Certificate Program

The Master Brewers Certificate Program at UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education (CPE) is one of the longest running and most respected brewing programs in the world.

Our industry-leading program, available in online and in-person formats, has produced hundreds of graduates that have gone on to start their own breweries and work for some of the biggest names in the business. From its inception, the Master Brewers Certificate Program has met the needs of an ever-evolving craft through world-class instructors, strong ties with industry leaders and a constantly growing network of distinguished alumni. 

Michael Lewis and his brewing class in mid-1970s
Michael Lewis, front row, right, and his brewing lab class in Sonoma, in the mid-1970s, with Jack McAuliffe, left, at his New Albion Brewing Co., the first microbrewery in the United States.



Michael Lewis joins Food Science and Technology Faculty at UC Davis

  • Lewis designs the initial brewing science courses at UC Davis: Malting and Brewing Science and Practical Malting and Brewing, laying the foundation of the Brewing Program at UC Davis
  • The courses were intended to help prepare brewers for working at the major brewing companies


The state of the industry was quite primitive at the time compared to today, and homebrewers needed a lot of help. (Michael Lewis) 

1976 Venture Catalog and homebrewing description
The first offering of Homebrewing—Winter 1976 University Extension Venture Catalog.



Lewis begins teaching homebrewing classes at CPE (then called University Extension) to non-matriculated adult learners

  • The first class offered was Homebrewing, a one-day course, offered multiple times a year
  • Taught on the UC Davis campus at Cruess Hall, at the original pilot brewery, homebrewers moved beyond using plastic buckets for fermentation and learned how to handle sanitation, brew with grain, select yeast and more
  • Students enrolled in multiple classes to gain a comprehensive, formal education in the art and science of brewing



Lewis launches the Intensive Brewing Science for Practical Brewers course at CPE, a weeklong, in-depth class for professional brewers and ambitious amateurs


President Jimmy Carter signs HR 1337, legalizing homebrewing at the federal level 


Before founding Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Ken Grossman attends Lewis’ homebrewing courses and, shortly after, brews his first batch of pale ale that would later become the world-famous Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

brewing students participate in wort production
Students practice wort production during a laboratory session at the Cruess Hall pilot brewery



Born out of the nascent homebrewing scene, the craft brewing industry emerges in the United States

  • Seeing the beginnings of a fledgling craft beer industry, Lewis realized there was a growing need for more highly trained brewers
  • The Intensive Brewing Science for Practical Brewers course is expanded to two weeks to meet the demand for a more intensive, hands-on education in the technical science and engineering aspects of the brewing process 



Sudwerk Brewing Co. is founded in Davis, California

Accreditation from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling put the Master Brewers Program head and shoulders above any other program in the Americas and brought many international students to our classroom. (Michael Lewis)  

Master Brewers Program students outside Sudwerk
Master Brewers Certificate Program class of 2015 students outside Sudwerk after classes (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)


Lewis retires from teaching at UC Davis and starts CPE’s Master Brewers Certificate Program

  • Up until this time, non-matriculated students were allowed to take select brewing science classes at UC Davis, but the restraints of the academic calendar year prevented professional brewers from quickly obtaining the education they needed 
  • The Master Brewers Certificate Program was designed as a focused, 18-week program that provided the brewing science and engineering knowledge to launch a career in the brewing industry. It featured lectures from leading academics and industry experts, practical training and tours of local breweries. By the end of the program, students walked away with an in-depth understanding of the brewing process.
  • Sudwerk Brewing Co. offered the program classroom space at their facility, exposing students to a brewery operation firsthand 
  • The Institute of Brewing and Distilling (IBD) approved the Master Brewers Certificate Program as a preparatory program for their international exam, which gave students the professional qualification of “brewing fellow” upon passing 
  • In the first few years of the program, most students had backgrounds in engineering, chemistry or another related field, but weren’t working in the industry. About five percent were from overseas breweries in Mexico, Japan, South America and Holland, including Modelo and Heineken.



Charles Bamforth, "the Pope of Foam,” becomes the first Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences at UC Davis and joins the Master Brewers Certificate Program faculty. During his tenure at UC Davis, Bamforth extended the brewing research program and recognized the urgent need to update the pilot brewery and research laboratory on campus, which would ultimately lead to the new brewing facilities in the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science complex.

More than any other educational establishment, UC Davis is recognized as the source for the best-educated students in the brewing industry. (Charles Bamforth)

Bamforth stands with Master Brewers Program students in Sudwerk Brewery
Professor Charles Bamforth poses for a photo with Master Brewers Certificate Program students at Sudwerk Brewing Co. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis)



The Master Brewers Certificate Program grows to become an industry-recognized leader in educating brewers. Since 2000, more than 800 brewers have gone through the program—many of whom go on to enjoy successful careers in the brewing industry. Alumni founded or brew at world-famous breweries such as:

  • Lagunitas Brewing Company
  • 21st Amendment Brewery
  • Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
  • Deschutes Brewery
  • Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
  • Fat Bottom Brewing
  • Heineken
  • Anheuser-Busch, In Bev
  • MillerCoors



The August A. Busch III Brewing and Food Science Laboratory—which houses the Anheuser Busch InBev Pilot Brewery, the world’s first LEED Platinum brewery, and the Sierra Nevada Brewing & Food Science Laboratory—is unveiled at UC Davis. Thanks to Bamforth’s efforts, this gave students in the Master Brewers Certificate Program access to state-of-the-art brewing equipment and practical, hands-on familiarity with the methodology being taught in the classroom.

The Master Brewers Certificate was my way into the industry and it gave me the much-needed leg up on the competition. The knowledge I gained from the program is how I have succeeded in the industry. This is a well-known program, and industry professionals know that great brewers are created here. (Amanda Koeller, head brewer, Bad Beat Brewing)


The Master Brewers Certificate Program evolves to a slightly shorter program (15 weeks) without the IBD exam/qualification component 

  • Lewis, “the nation’s first professor of brewing science,” is honored as part of The Smithsonian Institute’s showcase on the history of brewing in the “Food: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000” permanent exhibition
  • Glen Fox becomes the new Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Malting & Brewing Science at UC Davis and joins the Master Brewers Certificate Program faculty 



North Coast Brewing Company partners with CPE and the Master Brewers Certificate Program to establish a $50,000 endowment for the Mark E. Ruedrich North Coast Brewing Diversity Scholarship, the first scholarship ever created for the Master Brewers Program 

brewer Mariana Schneider working in the brewery
Schneider has been brewing and managing production at Amager Bryghus for over four years. (Photo courtesy of Olle Thorup)



Master Brewers Certificate Program launches a crowdfunding campaign to raise money in support of a diversity-focused scholarship

  • The scholarship provides full enrollment into the online MBCP, available once a year to students who are committed to diversity, have experienced the barriers traditionally faced by people from underrepresented populations and demonstrate a high potential for leadership in promoting cross-cultural understanding in the brewing industry
  • Mariana da Silva Schneider, a brewer in Denmark, is selected as the first winner of the UC Davis Tapping Potential scholarship


Master Brewers Program students in classroom
The Master Brewers classroom at Sudwerk Brewing Co., circa 2015 (Karin Higgins/UC Davis)



Master Brewers Certificate Program launches a fully online version of the program for greater accessibility, opening it up to a broader audience of passionate brewers and brewing educators from around the world

  • New format features 7 online courses, each 10-12 weeks long, over approximately 18 months 
  • Highly produced, prerecorded lectures and scheduled, live class sessions and instructor office hours 
  • Includes an optional week-long bootcamp at the state-of-the art August A Busch III Brewing and Food Science Laboratory on UC Davis campus for hands-on training in a brewery-like setting



After decades of operation, the Master Brewers Certificate Program continues to evolve and contribute to the industry by making brewing education more accessible and to a broader audience.

“We talk with a lot of breweries and the main thing we hear is the need for people with formal training,” said Glen Fox, Anheuser Busch Endowed Professor of Malting and Brewing Science at UC Davis. “It’s not just about brewing beer. There’s a lot of technical, complicated components that brewers need to think about and having this formal training gives breweries confidence in the people they are hiring.”

I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help of the UC Davis Master Brewers Program. Now that I’m on the hiring side of the table, I think the Master Brewers Program is the best education for training professional brewers out there. (Dan Weber, assistant brewing manager, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery)

The program features a unique combination of instruction from experts in both the academic and practical side of the industry, providing students with a comprehensive scientific background, innumerable real-world examples and an extensive network to help them advance in the brewing industry.

Students can be confident that the Master Brewers Certificate Program is taught in facilities that are second-to-none and by faculty who know their stuff. (Charles Bamforth)

“Perhaps the best indication of the strength of our program is the success of our alumni,” said Jon Hughes, director of brewing and sensory science at UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education. “I can’t go to a conference or brewing event without finding somebody who has either gone through the program themselves or hired one of our former students. The reason we are such a well-known and respected program in the industry is because of all the amazing people who have been involved with it from the outset.”

Learn more about the Master Brewers Certificate Program


laptop and glass of beer on a desk

Whether your dream is to brew award-winning beer for the public or something you’d be really proud to share with friends, the Master Brewers Certificate Program will teach you the skills needed to help your brewing reach new heights. 


master brewer Ronnie Fink in a brewery with beer

If you’re considering a career in the brewing industry, the Master Brewers Certificate Program can help you get there. See what our graduates have to say about their experience in the program.

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