Kalsec Inc., the Kalamazoo-based spice and flavorings company, has made a “major gift” to the new Sustainable Brewing Program at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

Kalsec, which produces hop extracts for the brewing industry, will provide financial support, resources and talent and equipment, among other items.

From left, Mike Babb, Ed Martini and Steve Bertman pose at Bell’s Eccentric Cafe. The trio, along with Dean McCurdy, helped design the Sustainable Brewing Program to be launched in 2015 at Kalamazoo Valley Community College and Western Michigan University.

From left, Ed Martini, Steve Bertman and Mike Babb look over an artist’s rendering of the new Sustainable Brewing Program while visiting Bell’s Eccentric Cafe. The trio, along with Dean McCurdy, who is not pictured, helped design the Sustainable Brewing Program to be launched in 2015 at Kalamazoo Valley Community College and Western Michigan University.

Here is the full press release from Kalamazoo Valley Community College:

KALAMAZOO, MI — Students in the new brewing science program at Kalamazoo Valley Community College will soon be the beneficiaries of a major gift, college president Marilyn Schlack and Scott Nykaza president of Kalsec announced recently. The gift includes multiple program resources for use in the newly named Kalsec Center for Sustainable Brewing Education.

The Kalsec Center for Sustainable Brewing Education will be located in the new culinary/allied health careers building on Kalamazoo Valley’s new downtown campus. “Kalsec’s generous gift of resources and talent will enable the college to provide brewing science education in the first and only U.S. sustainable brewing school developed from the ground up,” said Schlack.

In addition to financial support, Kalsec will contribute pilot brewery equipment, curriculum development and instruction by Mike Babb, Kalsec hops research fellow and master brewer, and evaluation of student beers through the Kalsec professional sensory panel. Kalsec is a leading brewing industry supplier of advanced hop products that provide bitterness addition, light stability and foam enhancement.

Babb, a former Coors brewer, served as a consultant in the development of Kalamazoo Valley’s Certificate and Associate of Applied Science degree programs in sustainable brewing and the “two-plus-two” Bachelor of Science program being offered by the college and Western Michigan University. According to Babb, “This collaborative effort between a community college, a university, and an industry partner group with representation from brewing community members is unique. This collaborative will provide a comprehensive learning experience for students seeking jobs in brewing and allied industries.”

Classroom work in Kalamazoo Valley’s sustainable brewing program will be reinforced through hands-on experiences in the operation of the small-scale teaching brewery in the new Center for Sustainable Brewing Education. The teaching brewery is designed to mimic, on a small-scale, the capability found with industrial brewing equipment, including education about the importance of sustainability including water and energy savings.

“We are excited to contribute and partner with Kalamazoo Valley in the advancement of brewing education and innovation,” says Joanne Martz, Kalsec’s hops global business director. “The brewing industry is an import part of our local, national and global economy.”

Beginning in fall 2015, Kalamazoo Valley will offer three options for students interested in sustainable brewing.   The 30-credit Certificate program will provide students with specific competencies considered critical when working in the field in a variety of roles and can be completed in about a year.

The Associate of Applied Science “go-to-work” degree combines the competencies in the Certificate program with additional coursework in the sciences, business, sustainability studies, and allied fields. The program is designed to prepare students for technical and entrepreneurial careers in the brewing industry.

The Associate of Sciences for Transfer degree is designed for students planning to transfer to Western Michigan University. Students will complete the brewing program at Kalamazoo Valley and then transfer to complete sciences and general education electives toward a Bachelor of Science at WMU.

Craft brewing in Michigan has a $1 billion economic impact, making the state 10th in the country. Nationally, craft beer accounts for nearly 8 percent of beer sales. And entries into the industry continue, with West Michigan developing a strong reputation for the craft. In 2013, Grand Rapids was named Beer City USA, and Kalamazoo came in second in the international voting

“The growth of the brewing industry has been accompanied by growth in ancillary and support industries such as distributors, hops farms and malting houses,” says Dean McCurdy, Associate Vice President for Food and Community Sustainability at Kalamazoo Valley. “We plan to position Kalamazoo as an education destination for this rapidly growing employment and entrepreneurial phenomenon.”

Students may begin registering for fall semester classes in April. Initial courses will be taught at the college’s Arcadia Commons Campus. The brewing courses will be taught on Kalamazoo Valley’s new downtown health-focused campus when it opens early in 2016.