brewmaster and student checking beer vats

Business of Craft Beer

Craft beer is part of a profound shift in national beer culture, as small and independent brewers deepen their connection to craft beer enthusiasts, while continuing to attract new consumers. Chicagoland is proving to be a significant segment of this booming business, with the steady expansion of local craft breweries in the city and suburbs.

Explore the craft beer business and gain the knowledge you need to get started in this exciting industry, with Business of Craft Beer Program offered by College of DuPage Continuing Education. This hands-on, premier beer education program focuses on the business of craft beer, with curriculum developed by key figures in the Chicago industry and courses conducted at College of DuPage. 

Samplings will be included with the courses; students must be 21 years of age to attend. 

Students can choose to take all courses within one term or take specific courses at their own pace over several terms. Earn your certificate of completion by completing five required courses in the Business of Craft Beer program. Students who complete the Introduction to the Craft Beer Industry course will be eligible to take the Cicerone® Certified Beer Service Exam at a discounted rate of $49.

Business of Craft Beer Program Courses

Courses for those working in the industry and those wishing to gain career skills needed to begin working in the craft beer industry.

Foundations of Beer (prerequisite, optional)

Designed primarily for the weekend beer hobbyist and the budding enthusiast. Foundations of Beer covers an overview of brewing, beer history, and tradition, beer styles, vocabulary and an introduction to food and beer pairing ideas. 

Thursday and Tuesday, Aug. 10 to 17
6 to 9 p.m.
PROED-0011-580, $175
On campus in Glen Ellyn

Inside Track to the Craft Beer Industry

Learn about the professions within the craft beer industry and the skills needed to be successful in different areas. Cover the basics of the industry,from beer history and ingredients to brewing methods. Explore beer styles, off-flavor tastings, beer evaluation, terminology and equipment. Students who complete this course are eligible to take the Certified Beer Server® exam at a discounted rate of $49 (this course is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Cicerone Certification Program).

Tuesday and Thursday, Aug. 22 to Sept. 14
6 to 9 p.m.
PROED-0011-550, $399
On campus in Glen Ellyn

Beer Production

Learn about the production of beer, from material management, to brewing schedules, packaging product and managing product distribution. This course helps to navigate the many processes involved with operations for creating beer and getting it out to your consumer. 

Spring 2024 dates TBD
6 to 9 p.m.
On campus in Glen Ellyn

Beer Sales and Distribution

Learn all the aspects of selling beer from those experienced in the industry. Gain knowledge about how to increase beverage sales while giving the customer a great experience, and discover how this leads to greater revenue for your business. Discuss distributor management, inventory management, and volume metrics. Learn how the three-tier system works in the craft beer industry and strategies to be successful within it.

Tuesday, Sept. 19 to Oct. 24
6 to 9 p.m.
PROED-0011-555, $299
On campus in Glen Ellyn

Promoting Beer as a Brand Ambassador

Develop promotional skills you can use in the taproom, at events and online. Gain working knowledge of social media and digital marketing. Discuss branding, messaging, audience, strategy and image and video creation.

Thursday, Sept. 21 to Oct. 26
6 to 9 p.m.
PROED-0011-552, $299
On campus in Glen Ellyn

Front of House Beer Management

Learn essential skills for superior taproom service and management, from proper pouring and draught-line basics to employee relations and beer fest training.

Monday, Oct. 30 to Dec. 4
6 to 9 p.m.
PROED-0011-553, $299
Partner Sites - Hybrid

Business of Craft Beer Capstone

Complete your training with this final capstone course, which will synthesize previous coursework into a final product. Gain hands-on experience in the industry, showcase your knowledge and display your abilities. Network with industry professionals and prepare for potential employment opportunities. This course includes volunteer experience during the month of November. Note : Prior to enrollment in this course, you must complete four of the required courses or have permission from the program manager.

Wednesday, Nov. 1 to Dec. 6
6 to 9 p.m.
PROED-0011-560, $299
Student Resource Center (SRC) and off-campus
Partner sites - Hybrid

Advanced Beer Knowledge

Take your knowledge of all things beer to the next level. This course builds off The Inside Track to the Craft Beer Industry course to cover the highest industry standards in knowledge of beer styles, production, evaluation, and service. Students emerge with a robust and well-rounded knowledge of beer from raw ingredient production to the customer’s glass. This is a challenging and rewarding in-depth survey for those interested in preparing for the Level II Certified Cicerone© exam. This course is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Cicerone@ Certification Program.

Thursday, Sept. 21 to Nov. 9
6 to 9:30 p.m.
PROED-0011-556, $449
Student Resource Center (SRC)  

Courses for those interested in opening a brewery, brewpub or beer-centric restaurant

Food and Beer Pairing

Join us on a 4-week journey through the art of pairing beer and food. Learn about beer ingredients, styles, and flavors, Each week you will be led through a tasting session. By the end of the course, you will have a deeper understanding of how flavors in food and beer compliment each other and the knowledge to help your patrons choose the right beer to accompany your meal.

Spring 2024 dates TBD
6 to 9 p.m.
PROED-0011-557, $279
On campus in Glen Ellyn 

Craft Beer Entrepreneurship

Learn from experienced entrepreneurs in the industry about what is needed to start your own craft beer-focused business. Take your idea and bring it to life while learning relevant business laws and infrastructure. Students emerge with strategies on opening and operating a beer-centric business. A reading list is provided two weeks prior to the start of the class.

Spring 2024 dates TBD
6 to 9 p.m.
PROED-0011-559, $349
On campus in Glen Ellyn

Beer Judging and Evaluation Series

Join us for this new series of beer judging and evaluation courses taught by Marty Nachel. Nachel is a 35-year member of the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP), a professional judge and author. He has participated in some of the largest and most prestigious beer competitions in the U.S. and abroad.

Register for all 3 and receive bundled discount.
Discount Bundle Fee $199

So You Want to Become a Beer Judge

Learn to evaluate attributes of beer with a recognized set of criteria. You will become a more distinguished evaluator of beer and discover the best practices of beer judging. Get a sneak peek into the important habits practiced by beer judges and the do’s and don'ts of beer judging.

Thursday, June 29
6:30 to 8 p.m.

Off-Flavor Beer Course

The Off-Flavor Beer course is designed to refine the beer evaluation skills of homebrewers, those working in the craft beer industry and those wanting to learn skills to gain employment in the industry. Take this class on its own or after taking the beer judging course: So You Want to Become a Beer Judge. The Off-Flavor Beer course exposes students to various beer off-flavors often experienced within the brewing industry. This exposure would help participants develop what is called “sensory memory.” The ability to find and identify these off-flavors can be valuable to participants working in quality control at a brewery, in beer evaluation or beer judging and for homebrewers looking to improve their brewing skills and beer quality.

Tuesday and Thursday, July 6 to 18
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Beer Judging and Evaluation Exam

Do you have what it takes to be a certified beer judge? This Beer Judging and Evaluation Exam has been created by a professional certified beer judge, Marty Nachel, who has more than 35 years of experience. It is designed for both home brewers and industry professionals. The exam includes a written portion and a tasting portion. Both will test your beer knowledge and evaluation skills. Pass the exam and receive a certificate showing your proficiency in beer judging.

Thursday, July 20
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Advisory Board

Key figures in craft beer from the Chicago area serve on the Business of Craft Beer Program advisory board to identify course content, develop curriculum and instruct courses.


Employment opportunities in the craft beer industry are available through the three-tier system of brewers, wholesalers and retailers, as well as associated fields. This industry continues to see an increase in U.S. breweries with 9,118 craft breweries in operation in 2021 a 19.6% increase from 2018.  There are 299 craft breweries in Illinois producing 438.534 barrels of craft beer each year. 

The craft brewing industry contributed $76.3 billion to the U.S. economy in 2021, and more than 490,000 jobs. More than 170,000 jobs are directly at breweries and brewpubs. Source:  

To learn more about the program, teaching opportunities or hosting a course, contact Jenifer Walsh, program manager, at (630) 942-3045 or  


The Business of Craft Beer Program is a member of the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild.

Illinois Craft Brewers Guild 

Contact Information

Continuing Education
Student Resource Center (SRC), Room 1110
(630) 942-2208
Fax: (630) 942-3785

Front Desk Hours
  • Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Office hours may vary due to holidays and staff coverage.