Have you always dreamed of owning your own brewery? UNC Charlotte has four courses to help you make it happen.

Have you always dreamed of owning your own brewery? UNC Charlotte has four courses to help you make it happen.
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This paid content was created in partnership with UNC Charlotte

Owning a brewery honestly sounds like an ideal setup.

You just brew beer and hang out all day in a cool, retro-fitted warehouse surrounded by food trucks, right?



That was my very naive idea of brewery ownership before I talked with Karri Hahn and Christy Joyce from UNC Charlotte’s Craft Beer Business Essentials program.

The continuing education program, which was introduced last year, covers everything you need to know about owning a brewery in just 12 weeks.

The program’s courses cover a wide range of topics, ranging from creating a business plan and building your brand to running day-to-day operations and legal.

At the end of the 12 weeks, students get a Craft Beer Business Essentials Certificate and they’re armed with everything they need to turn their brewery dream into a reality. Pretty cool.

Christy Joyce teaches the program’s marketing course. When she’s not teaching for UNC Charlotte, she’s a marketing consultant for local and regional breweries. She knows her stuff.

We met up at Brewers at 4001 Yancey and she gave me a taste of what students learn in her class.

I quickly learned the importance of a good brand. “The brand is the foundation for everything,” says Joyce. “It’s important for a brewery to know who they are. That affects the logo, the vibe, the color palette, all of it.”

During our meeting, I got to create my own fake brewery concept, which Joyce uses as an exercise for students in her class. “I have students come up with a name, logo, and think through the story of the brand. Then, they pitch it in front of the class.”

It’s pretty tough to come up with a brewery concept and Joyce warned that going with a “cookie-cutter” concept isn’t the way to go. “You want to connect your personal story,” she says.

This was my concept. I had a lot of fun doing it but don’t expect my brewery to appear in Charlotte anytime soon.

Joyce didn’t just stress logos and color palettes though. “Marketing is about the entire customer experience from start to finish.”

On the final capstone day of her course, she takes students to Charlotte breweries to get that customer experience firsthand. “It’s the little things that matter – were the stools comfortable? Did I enjoy the brewery space? How was the parking lot? It’s all part of it.”

It’s this level of detail that has made the course, and the entire program, a huge success.

“Our first program sold out,” says Karri Hahn, Program Director of Continuing Education at UNC Charlotte. She says it’s the uniqueness of the program that makes it stand out.

“We are really the only program in NC that focuses on the business side of things,” she points out. “You can be really good at brewing beer but know nothing about the legal and business requirements. It all works together.”

The mixture of both online and in-person classes is also unique to the program. Plus, Hahn notes that the students end up with a lot of local brewery connections. “All of our instructors work directly with breweries and we also have brewery owners come in and speak transparently about their own experiences.”

If you’re serious about owning a brewery, this is a good place to start. “A program like this can put people on the right foot to achieve their dream.”

Interested in joining the program this spring?

You can sign up here.

If you’re not ready to get into the brewery business but you’re really into craft beer, UNC Charlotte also offers Beer Basics: A Crash Course in Craft.

Beer at Olde Mecklenburg Brewery

Beer Basics covers things like tasting and evaluating beer, learning how it’s made and how to properly serve it. It’s only $79 for one full Saturday of craft beer learning.

Did you notice the part where you get to taste beer? Yeah, I’m into that too.

Get more details and sign up here.

This paid content was created in partnership with UNC Charlotte.


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