Santa Rosa Junior College, which backed the bill, has taught students to make and market wine for years. It’s adding a beer program this fall with a couple dozen students—and more on a waiting list.
“We’re talking 30 kegs of beer is what we’re looking at producing here,” says Chris Wills, who is coordinating the effort. He says beer can be harder to sell than to make, so it’s an important experience for students.
Wills says pride is also a factor, but they’re not trying to outcompete anyone.
“Personally, I have no interest and no enthusiasm for that whatsoever,” says Charlie Bamforth, a 39-year veteran of the industry at U.C. Davis. He says his focus is on working alongside breweries.
“My job is to provide them with that expertise, provide them with people, provide them with information," Bamforth says. "But it’s not my job to be selling beer and competing with them.”
The bill passed both the state Senate and the Assembly with overwhelming support.
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