New beer brewing program to boost local craft brewing scene

Local News

MISSION, Texas (ValleyCentral) — South Texas College and several local breweries are looking to improve how we enjoy our downtime by partnering on an apprenticeship for beer brewing.

Craft beers are more popular than ever and their sales make up a quarter of all beer sales in the United States to the tune of nearly 30 billion dollars.

When 5×5 Brewing opened in 2018, co-owner George Rice said the brewery saw immediate success, selling out its first batch of beer very quickly. During the opening, something became very apparent.

“We realized we had an educational gap down here,” Rice said. Lots of people were excited to try some local beers, but there weren’t a lot of places making any and there wasn’t a nearby place to learn how. “If you go up to like Houston or New York, it’s easy to find brewers, guys with experience. We really didn’t have that down here,” Rice said.

The owners of 5×5 contacted South Texas College to set up a program to train local brewmasters following the American Brewmasters Guild lesson plans.

Rice and the other owners wanted to train local people to make local beer because “regional breweries really identify with the region, with the culture.” Having a way to learn to do that close by would make it easier for more craft breweries to open up.

Most people who drink beer probably don’t think about the effort that goes into making their beer, just that it’s cold and refreshing. Rice explained there is actually a lot of work that goes into each batch. “It’s not a bunch of drunk guys sitting around just throwing stuff in,” he said.

“There’s a lot of math, there’s a lot of biology and there’s a lot of chemistry involved with this.”

There are several local craft breweries open in the valley with more on the way. Rice said it was better to support local breweries than the big national beer brands because local breweries give back to the community.

“When you’re buying local beer, it’s paying for local employees that have their kids sign up for soccer or going to school. When we do fundraisers they’re all locally based as well. You’ll never see Coors Light do a big benefit or fundraiser down here in the Rio Grande Valley,” Rice said.

He added that 5×5 Brewing had raised over $700,000 for local charities and organizations since they opened in 2018.

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