I spent my undergrad days at Ohio University, a charming college distinguished by brick streets, big trees and bars slinging numerous drink specials. The Greenery had quarter draft night, while the Union sold Genesee Cream Ale for a buck. One was also the magic number at O’Hooley’s where, for a single glorious hour nightly, the brewpub sold pints of beers such as Scotch ales, pale ales and stout pints for a dollar.
Power Hour might’ve been about pounding pints (my record is five), but inebriation came with a side of schooling. Beyond the buzz, drinking beer during my college years was all about the discovery of flavor—the interplay between grains and hops, water and yeast. Power Hour was the cheapest education in town, in some ways more useful than that journalism degree.
A couple decades later, colleges have caught the craft-beer bug. Not just drinking it—though I’m positive there’s still plenty of that going around—but rather colleges are installing breweries where students can cook up test batches that are served at bars and taprooms right on campus. Whether you’re a curious undergrad or a graduate looking for a liquid refresher course, here are five of the best college breweries where you’ll happily earn extra credit.
Metropolitan State University of Denver: Tivoli Brewing Company
Built in 1864, Denver’s Tivoli kept Colorado residents lubricated with lagers and pilsners for more than a century, until the brewery shuttered in 1969. Instead of facing the wrecking ball, the structure was added to the National Register of Historic Places, later becoming the student union for several colleges, including Metropolitan State. In 2015, Metropolitan welcomed the reborn Tivoli brewery, which offers refreshing helles lagers, German pilsners and hands-on educational experience for students seeking to major in brewing operations. Expect a course load heavy in organic chemistry and fermentation science, as well as specialized classes about alcohol beverage law and global water concerns.
Pro tip: Sure, you can crush the Tivoli beers at the campus taproom, but it’s more fun to seek out collaborations, such as the Next Peak pale ale brewed at Denver’s Strange Craft with brewery owner Tim Myers, who is also an instructor at Metropolitan.
The Culinary Institute of America: Post Road Brew House
Both culinary and liquid arts star at the Culinary Institute of America’s Hyde Park, New York estate, which houses the Brewery at CIA. The teaching and production brewery, created via a partnership with Brooklyn Brewery, supplies the school’s restaurants with beers such as the Mise en Place Wit and Cleaver IPA, plus student-devised “class project” beers including the maple syrup–drizzled Triple Crown. “We make sure all students get a chance to do everything, get involved in some way with each step of the brewing process,” head brewer Hutch Kugeman said. “Every class has a chance to create something new, and they’re brewing with a purpose, making something you can sell and that is seasonally appropriate.”
Pro tip: Try CIA beers at its Post Road restaurant, where the beers are served alongside elevated pub grub like Scotch eggs painted with stout-infused mustard.
Schoolcraft College: American Harvest Brewpub
It’s never amateur hour at the culinary-minded Schoolcraft College, located some 20 miles northwest of Detroit. Students enrolled in the university’s certificate program in brewing and distillation technology have grabbed gobs of medals for their beers, including a kölsch that took silver at this year’s World Beer Cup—one of professional brewing’s most prestigious competitions. Even cooler, Schoolcraft cans the kölsch, as well as its pale ale and IPA. They’re better mementos than yet another college sweatshirt.
Pro tip: While the American Harvest Brewpub is open to the public, the hours are pretty limited: Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
SUNY Morrisville: Copper Turret Restaurant & Brewhouse
At this year’s U.S. Open U.S. Open College Beer Championship (yes, that’s a thing), New York State’s tiny SUNY Morrisville was named North America’s best brewing college. Credit is partly due to the local agronomic excellence: Students’ winning beers, such as The Arsenal IPA and The Crop pilsner, are nearly exclusively made with native hops and grains. “We take great pride in developing beers that highlight the bounty of New York agriculture,” said SUNY Morrisville’s head brewer Micheal Coons, who oversees the college’s brewing curriculum. Students learn about brewing’s scientific side (hello, yeast propagation) and the necessary business nitty-gritty, such as filing permits and government paperwork.
Pro tip: The beers are brewed and poured at the Copper Turret restaurant, operated by the college’s not-for-profit auxiliary corporation.
Colorado State University: Ramskeller Pub & Grub
Earlier this spring, the Fort Collins college outfitted its campus pub with a 264-gallon brewing system. Students in the school’s fermentation science and technology program—a scientific-focused undergraduate track that emphasizes the microbiology and chemistry behind brewing beer—to create experimental batches. “We’re hoping to establish CSU as the leader in fermentation education and research,” Jeff Callaway, associate director of the fermentation science program, told The Coloradoan. Fun fact: MillerCoors donated the brewery, which was previously used at a hockey arena in Vancouver.
Pro tip: Alcohol was illegal on Colorado State’s campus until students in 1968 organized a “beer in,” demanding the right to drink beer. The next year, the Ramskeller Pub started offering beer. Toast the history with a student-brewed batch, which should go on draft later this fall.