I actually looked into going there a few years back. I met with Lyn Kruger, the President of World Brewing Academy and Keith Lemcke from Siebel (name dropping). From what I gathered Siebel is a place to go if you really want to be a part of macrobrewing. If you just want to work in a microbrewery or something like that, I was told to just find a job at one somewhere, doesn't matter what you do, clean floors, whatever, just get your foot in the door. Maybe you could e-mail Keith at Siebel and ask him questions. I still have his card somewhere if you want the address? Obviously, if you really want to go to Siebel, go, it would still be freakin' awesome!
I recently got accepted into the UC Davis Master Brewers program myself...here's my background:
Graduating in June 09 with a BS in Chemical Engineering from UC Riverside
3 years of an internship doing air quality research and analysis
1 year of an internship researching platinum nano-crystals for use as a catalyst in proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells
~1yr experience home brewing (includes reading and research)
3 month internship at a local micro brewery
interesting that I would find this to be my first post on this forum, especially bumping a month old topic, but I felt the need to give my 2 cents...
Anyways...since gaining acceptance into this program I have felt the need to do as much thinking about whether or not it is truly worth doing it...I mean aside from the financial obligations this is a dream I have had for the past 2 years!
UC Davis is led by two of the biggest world authorities on beer...Michael Lewis and Charles Bamforth and this program is not only world renowned by in the top three of brewing schools in the world...
Now considering the fact that you will not only be studying what happens when brewing but before, during, and after (like the engineering side of things) this course is intense and not for the average home brewer (no offense, but I spoke for Charles Bamforth in person and this was his analysis, not mine)
Anyways...all things considered this course is $14,300 and worth every cent IMO just because of the network, letters of rec, and environment one will be immersed into...this is something that will be there for you always and is internationally recognized.
The figures posted here for master brewers are all taken from statistics from the early 2000's (ie 2003-2005) and since then salaries/wages have increased to accommodate for the massive change in the standard of living...I have not heard of a since master brewer (in CA at least) that makes less than $45K but then again, that is subject to those stubborn people who know people, who know people, who say master brewers don't make $45K...you know it's really who you ask and where they're located...
Now I don't plan on becoming a master brewer, I plan on opening up my own place (as does everyone) but in all seriousness, this program can save on major costs when plannign on starting your own place because the knowledge obtained here (or at any master brewers course for that matter) can give you the insight that a normal home brewer can't fathom...it's an entirely different world (as I have come to see) going from 5-10 gallon batches to 7 or 14bbl microbrew systems...It's not necessarily a bad thing to do a trial by error type education system, but it is not very cost effective and against my nature as an engineer...
Anywho...for me, it's always been the network and the name game...being at UCR I see it more than ever, I need an f'ing resume booster, something that makes me more impressive than the average Joe, and this is just the thing...so for all you novice dreamers, expert brewers, Joe "Beer" Smith's, these kinds of programs are great...and I'd imagine a lot of ppl would say I'm in the dark because I haven't even started the program yet, well I've been to the UCD campus, spoken to a plethora of students and professors, and to be quite honest, yes, mine is an educated guess, but a good outlook from a non-biased perspective...
You mentioned you took the Siebel online course. I was curious if you had any feedback on that. I was thinking about taking it.
I am a 21 year old fresh out of college with a history degree, unfortunately it took me time to figure out I wanted to brew rather then teach. With that being said my sciences are not the strongest, but because I want to do this and have the will to learn it, I am hoping for a smooth transition...
...Anyways if you could tell me anything about it, that would be great.
Just a side note. I look at the brewing field just like I look at my field. I have a B.S. in Culinary Arts and Science from Johnson and Wales University 1999. Now there are plenty of chefs that I know, and many of them have their own restaurants and are very successful, that never had "formal" culinary education. They busted themselves in the kitchen everyday working long hours learning everything they could. Ages range anywhere from 28 years old to 60. They have great business knowledge and out-cook anyone. Could they have gotten there easier if they had a fancy degree? Who knows, but just like any type of education, you get out of it what you put in it. It is great to have a solid foundation in a field that, in my personal opinion, is more finesse and creative craft than say a structured company or corporation. When it comes to gathering people outside your field and circle of friends or associates, they prefer to some type of formalized study. JMHO
We wrapped up the last class yesterday at Siebel in Chicago. I have to say, I was not impressed at all. In fact, I am somewhat disappointed in the class content. With a course syllabus that has titles such as "Brewpub Startup" and "Business Plan, Section 1", I was under the impression that this would be a very business focused class. Most everyone who attended had tremendous brewing knowledge and of course viewed this class as the next stepping stone in their future. Most of the speakers began with some sound information, but ended with useless information. The total mention for the SBA was probably 5 minutes. Most of the talks were about their personal experience, which did in someways give useful info, but then they changed gears to give sales presentations of their product and strayed away from the topic. There were two saving graces, the GM from Goose Island Pub and Brewery and a representative from the TTB (Tax and Trade Bureau). The GM from Goose Island opened his books and explained the numbers, the systems, the necessity and the structure of the financial systems in a brewpub/restaurant setting. The representative from the TTB gave all the information that we needed for the proper filing and regulatory systems they have in place. Most of the others just gave you information that you could have easily gotten from visiting their website or sitting down at the bar and having a beer with them. There was very little substance, if any. Not one of them mentioned SCORE, which is an organization that helps out entrepreneurs by connecting them to former CEO's, CFO's, retired heads of industry and many others. This is also a free service! They would have mentioned this if they did more research on the SBA site because there is a link under the business planning and development heading. Alot of them gave the how's but never gave the why's. I just don't feel that there was enough, if any, business related material regarding starting up a company. There was very little discussion on financial, bank loans, real estate contracts and many more topics one would research in order to build a business. I believe that if you are to do this class right, you should invite a representative from the SBA, SCORE, major financial institution, business lawyers, business plan writers and better heads of industry to give the class talks. Having only one class on the legal aspects of the business is not enough. This class is definetly not one that I will reccomend to anyone.
Email me if you want more information and would like to hear me rant somemore!