Cameron Dean was a beer connoisseur with a dream when he signed up for the Business of Craft Beer Certificate program at SDSU’s College of Extended Studies a little over a year ago.
“I wanted to get involved in the craft beer industry in any way that I could, whether it be by working at a brew pub, brewery, or starting my own business,” said Dean.
In August 2014, he was one of 27 students who celebrated their status as the first-ever graduating class of the popular Business of Craft Beer program, now in its second year.
The knowledge he gained enabled him to bid farewell to Trader Joe’s, where he’d worked for the past six years, and embark on his new career. Today, Dean is the beer ambassador and bar manager at Regents Pizzeria in La Jolla.
“I was given all the necessary tools to achieve success,” said Dean of the program.
What did you like about SDSU’s Business of Craft Beer certificate program?
I liked everything about it. What I enjoyed most was the interactions between everyone (students, teachers, assistants). There was so much passion for beer in every class.
What pearls of wisdom did you come away with in Exploring Craft Beer, Beers Styles, Brewery Startup or other classes which will help you in the future?
The pearl of wisdom that I came away with was that there are so many things to learn about beer and I only know about 5 percent. And that if someone wants to get into the craft beer business they should “never stop learning” and they should network within the community and continue to build working relationships.
How do you think the networking aspect of the program will benefit you?
The networking aspect of the program benefited me greatly. Each class is an opportunity to speak with like-minded individuals who all have varying backgrounds in the craft beer community. I think that being able to network in each class was a huge point of interest for me.
Would you recommend this certificate program to others in the beverage and hospitality industry?
I would strongly recommend this program to anyone in the service industry. The information covered in each class is so specific. You get to learn more about beer styles, how to pour beer properly, beer history, and beer storage to name a few things. The more knowledge you have about the product you’re selling, the more comfortable you will be talking to customers, and the higher your overall sales will be.
Who do you look up to in the industry? Any teachers or advisors here?
I look up to everyone in the industry who is pushing the envelope and driving craft beer into the future. Scot Blair (CEO and co-founder, Monkey Paw Brewing Co., Hamilton’s Tavern, and Small Bar) and Dr. Bill Sysak (craft beer ambassador, Stone Brewing Co.) are two of the teachers that I connected well with. Their enthusiasm and knowledge of craft beer is endless. I found them both to be excellent educators and great representatives of the craft beer movement.
Any brewery or brewing plans in your future?
Who knows what the distant future holds, but I’ve always wanted to have my own bottle shop.
How has the certificate program changed your life?
The certificate program has changed my life in countless ways. I never thought I would be in the first graduating class of anything, let alone the Business of Craft Beer. I now have useful skills and knowledge that I can use to help the industry continue to grow and be successful. I’ve made valuable connections with people in the industry and others who simply love craft beer. I feel like it’s my responsibility now to be the Beer Ambassador that Scot Blair told us we should be. I want to use my education to teach others about the wonderful world of craft beer.