UnCapped: Craft Beer Program at the University of Vermont | Culture & Leisure

In this episode of the UnCapped podcast, host Chris Sands talks to Gregory Dunkling, director of the Business of Craft Beer program at the University of Vermont, about the details of this awesome program that teaches people how to manage the business side of their brewery, from business plans to marketing. Here is an edited excerpt from their speech.

Uncapped: This is surprisingly the second time I have someone from a university. The first time I talked to a gentleman who uses brewing science to teach chemistry. It’s a little different though, what you’re doing. Why not start by telling yourself a bit about yourself. I assume you came to this position because you love craft beer, as well as education.

Gregory Dunkling: Yes, it’s true. I’m going to date myself a bit here. I became interested in the craft beer sector when there weren’t many breweries. I started working with a group of friends at a home brewing club in the early 80’s. There were a bunch of organized groups around the state of Vermont. We got together and brewed beer and had a great passion for it.

When the industry started to emerge, I started to connect with brewery owners and brewers, and that’s how I started. I had the desire to find something different from what the market was offering. We used to cross the border into Quebec to buy Molson Brador, because that was the good beer back then. We couldn’t find anything worthwhile unless it was an import. That’s how I got involved.

Uncapped: When did Vermont’s great craft breweries open?

dunkling: Greg Noonan opened the Vermont Pub and Brewery in Burlington, Vermont, and he became a well-known author on how to brew, and he was a lawyer and helped establish the legal basis for it in Vermont. So many people flocked to Burlington to drink his beer and get to know Greg, who was a very friendly and welcoming person.

Then we had a series of breweries that became famous. Long Trail became the state’s first well-known brewery and kind of put us on the map. Then Magic Hat came along and quickly grew to become well known on the East Coast and elsewhere, and one of their [beers] taken on college campuses and for people who were just beginning to experiment with handmade products. After that, several other breweries really put us on the map. Lawsons, certainly, was in high demand; The Alchemist; hill farm; Otter Creek – all highly rated breweries associated with Vermont.

Uncapped: And this group of breweries are all pretty old, as far as craft brews go, right?

dunkling: They have been around for about 10 to 15 years. I am currently in the Boston market, and we have a number of well-known and widespread breweries here. In all the restaurants you go to, you see them. So Vermont has a reputation—far from having the most breweries in the country, but we’ve certainly made an impact on the industry.

Uncapped: Yeah, I don’t think there’s anyone who loves craft beer and loves IPAs who hasn’t gone out of their way to get a Focal Banger or a Heady Topper [from The Alchemist]. Personally, I prefer Focal Banger.

dunkling: Yeah, that was also my favorite.

Uncapped: What was the craft beer that was your gateway to craft beer?

dunkling: I was a big fan of English beers. Sweet bitters are what caught my eye early on – drinking beer and making beer. I certainly had a great appreciation for some of the German products too. I was focused on Europe when I started, but then the craft sector grew in the United States, and I turned to New Amsterdam in New York, which is no longer with us , and Burley Ale at the Vermont Pub and Brewery. I didn’t have one, but IPAs back then weren’t as popular as they are today.

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