Calling aspiring craft brewers: ETSU launches new minor

Published 4:45 pm Wednesday, November 17, 2021

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JOHNSON CITY – Wondering just how popular breweries have become?

In 2020, taprooms alone produced over 1.8 million barrels – that’s more than 55 million gallons – of beer, the Brewer’s Association reported.

Over the summer, Tennessee Hills Brewing and Distilling opened a new location on West Walnut Street, the site of a $33 million investment project by the City of Johnson City aimed at revitalizing the space that connects downtown with East Tennessee State University.

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And now at ETSU, students have the opportunity to minor in Brewing and Distillation Studies. ETSU and Tennessee Hills officials announced the creation of this new minor during a news conference earlier today.

“This exciting minor will enable our students to find success in the craft beverage industry,” said Dr. Sharon James McGee, Dean of the College of Graduate and Continuing Studies at ETSU. “There is so much science and business training that students need to be successful in this field, and ETSU is providing it. The Division of Cross-Disciplinary Studies is proud to be the home for this undergraduate minor that draws from courses across the university to provide students a grounding in all aspects of brewing and distillation.”

Students choosing this minor must complete 21 credits. The first required course in the major, “Introduction to Brewing and Distillation Studies,” will be offered in the Spring 2022 semester.

The courses are wide-ranging. In the minor, students will study fermentation science, business, marketing, entrepreneurship, and the cultural and historical aspects of brewing and distillation in this region and beyond. In addition, students will work through the legal, ethical and social aspects of alcohol consumption, as well as the effects on both communities and economies.

At ETSU, learning goes beyond the classroom. Students will get hands-on experience thanks to the university’s relationship with Tennessee Hills, where some students are already interning.

“Tennessee Hills is humbled yet very proud to help a great university like ETSU provide its students with world-class experiential learning opportunities in the rapidly growing distillation and fermentation sciences fields,” CEO of Tennessee Hills Scott Andrew and President and founder Stephen Callahan said in a joint statement. “Northeast Tennessee has been a cultured home to these craft sciences for over 200 years and there is no better place than ETSU and these great ‘Tennessee Hills’ to make something like this happen.”

ETSU Provost and Senior Vice President for Academics Dr. Kimberly D. McCorkle said the new minor is a key workforce development initiative.

“This is a unique educational program that we developed through listening to the needs of regional industries,” McCorkle said. “People are not necessarily training for this in northeast Tennessee, so we are helping to fill that void. Meeting the workforce needs of the Appalachian Highlands goes directly to the core of what this institution has been doing for more than 100 years, and we are grateful to Tennessee Hills for partnering with us on this venture and for investing in the future of our students.”

Have questions about this minor? Visit for additional information.