For many students, alcohol is unofficially part of the college experience.
Next year students at South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia will be able to get degrees in brewing, distilling, and cider-making.
It’s believed to be the first degree of its kind in the nation, according to Noel Rubadue, dean for Corporate and Continuing Education.
“We’re here in Olympia, which beer is part of our legacy,” said Rubadue.
The college is building a new facility to teach the distillery courses as part of a development called the Craft District.
Developers have secured two distilleries, Sandstone from Tenino and Heritage from Gig Harbor to be part of the project along with a craft brewer, who has yet to be announced.
The property is across the street from a portion of the old Olympia brewery, the landmark facility that stopped making beer in 2003.
Ever since, developers have talked about renovating and reopening the property.
The City of Tumwater and the Craft District’s developers hope their success will trigger action at the old brewery.
Sandstone Distilling co-founder John Bourdon said his tasting room will be full of Olympia beer memorabilia. He would love to think his business could help the old brewery re-open someday.
“I’ve had folks that worked at the brewery for 30 years, and when they hear what we’re doing, they start to cry,” said Bourdon.
Construction should be completed at the site by next August.
SPSCC hopes to be teaching its first distillery students in September of 2018.