CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - From the brewers and distributors, to those who like to sip, the craft beer industry is booming. And now, Horry Georgetown Technical College is jumping on the bandwagon. The technical college is looking to offer students a degree in brewing and it's teaming up with a local brewery to make it happen.
A four-man team runs the New South craft brewery on Campbell Street in Myrtle Beach, and they put in long hours.
"Sixty-hour weeks sometimes and on a brew day, ten-hours a day," says Roddy Graham, the operations manager.
Most of the guys learned how to brew beer the old school way; through techniques that were handed down to them, but it's a technical job.
"I kind of look at it as a culinary art," says Graham. "There is a science to it but once you've been in the business long enough, you know what your yeast is going to do and what your products are going to do."
It's a craft, Horry-Georgetown Technical College is hoping to offer to its students.
In a unanimous decision this week, commission members decided to conduct a statewide employment needs assessment of the industry. The college touts a 90 percent job placement rate after graduation, so if that survey find there's a big enough need, students can major in brewing, distillation and fermentation in the fall of 2015.
"There's not going to be a shortage of jobs in the craft brew industry because the signs show the industry is growing exponentially," says Marilyn Murph Fore, the Senior V.P. at HGTC.
Within the last year, nearly a dozen craft beer production facilities opened up in the state and by the end of 2014 an estimated 1000 new breweries will open nationwide.
HGTC has been working with New South to get a better understanding of the industry.
Students in the program would get hands on experience at the New South factory and the program would allow students to follow a track that best suits their career desires.
"Students may go into the agricultural end of the brew master and then also there's a major track that would help those interested in the distribution, the sales and marketing and the maintenance of the equipment," says Fore.
HGTC would be the first to offer the program as a major in the state and New South says it's coming at the right time.
This is definitely the right time to get in," says Graham. "And having people come into the market that are trained in the industry is definitely an advantage to the boom that we saw in the 80's and the boom we saw in the 90's.
HGTC says it expects to have the craft beer employment needs assessment done by June.