Yes, they can at Metro State

Photos courtesy MSU

Photos courtesy MSU

Brewing students expand into canning

By Steve Graham

College students who work with Tivoli Brewing on an upcoming Collaboration Fest Tripel won’t just learn how to make the strong Belgian ale. They are also learning to can it for optimal flavor and freshness.

Cask Global Canning Solutions recently donated a canning system to Metropolitan State University of Denver for its growing beer industry program. 

“The Cask canning line will be a true difference maker for both MSU Denver and the beer industry as a whole,” said MSU program director Scott Kerkmans. “Our students are the next generation of brewery leaders, and now they can learn about micro-canning on equipment ideally suited for small and medium-sized breweries. They can apply that knowledge while interning during school and working after graduation.” 

He said the canning system will mostly be used in the brewing mechanics class, and in the senior capstone course, applied brewery operations.

The MSU beer program is housed at the MSU School of Hospitality, Events and Tourism, and offers several degree and non-degree options that cover the science of brewing beer, as well as the hospitality and operations side of brewing businesses.

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“When we toured the school’s beer lab, we were blown away by the caliber of the testing equipment and the sophistication of the staff,” said Peter Love, founder of Cask, which donate the canning equipment. “We love that MSU Denver students will get quality control and testing experience way beyond what they could get in a typical craft brewery, and our micro-canning gear and cans will be put through that same rigorous testing and scrutiny.”

The canning system will be housed at Tivoli Brewing Company, which shares space and works closely with the MSU beer program.

“We’re delighted to get some of our beer into cans and help take the Cask and MSU Denver partnership to the next level,” said Tivoli president and CEO Ken Hehir. “While the canning line could have gone in a classroom or lab, instead it will be in a fully operational craft brewery. So it’ll provide revenue to the beer program and real-world brewery experience to students.”  

Despite its growing ubiquity, canned craft beer still carries a stigma in some circles, despite its environmental advantages and the fact that a solid aluminum can maintains flavor better than a see-through glass bottle. But Kerkmans said his students are helping improve the quality and reputation of canned beer.

“I do think the more education we can get people that shows the benefits of a packaging choice such as cans, the better off the taste of beer and our acceptance of those packaging choices will be,” he said.

The MSU program also recently launched a quality assurance lab to test commercial beer. Any local brewer can get their beers tested for quality at the school.

Kerkmans said he expects 15 students to graduate from the beer program this May. For more information about the program, visit www.msudenver.edu/beer.