Craft Distilling Certificate

Craft Distilling

What can you expect from this program/course?

This exciting new program prepares graduates for employment in the growing alcohol spirits distillation industry, or to support those already in the workplace. This program provides applicable and necessary hands-on training, and is committed to the promotion of sustainable production practices.

What will you learn?

Specific areas of instruction include fermentation theory and application, maturation and blending of spirits, sensory evaluation, and quality assurance and management in a distillery environment. By the end of the program you will be able to:

  • use distillation and fermentation techniques to produce and package high quality spirits
  • evaluate the consistency, quality, and flavour of distilled spirits
  • adjust spirit recipes, ingredients, or production processes in response to quality or flavour concerns
  • create spirits that align with target market interests
  • establish and implement appropriate quality controls and processes throughout the production, packaging, and distribution of spirits
  • comply with applicable provincial, federal, and international regulatory and trade requirements to produce, package, and distribute spirits safely and legally
  • demonstrate effective communication and personal management skills in the workplace

Program at a glance

Credential: Certificate

Length of Program: 8 Weeks/Course

Delivery: Blended Online with 1 week mandatory field school at Eau Claire Distillery

Registration Deadline: 2 weeks prior to class start date

Dates: This program consists of two 8 week terms of online courses, each term consisting of two online classes. The third term, in September, includes the capstone course: a 5 day field study and concurrent online class. 

  • Term 1: May 6 – June 28, 2019
  • Term 2: July 8 – August 30, 2019
  • Term 3: 2019 dates to be determined

Pre-requisites: Practical Distilling course must be completed following all other courses.

Fees: $799/Course

Required Text & Material:  The Alcohol Textbook; 5th Edition, Edited by W.M. Ingledew, G.D. Austin, C. Kluhspies, D.R. Kelsall. Published in January of 2009 by Nottingham University Press.  Approximate Cost: $240 USD.

Note that the textbook is the responsibility of the student. Please wait until 1 week prior to the course start date to purchase materials  as the courses will be cancelled if minimum enrolment is not received.

Order Textbook

Students will also be required to travel and stay for 5 days to complete the field study portion of this training. The field study will take place at Eau Claire Distillery in Turner Valley, and it is the student's responsibility to arrange transportation and accommodation as required. Specific dates will be determined in advance within September based on class size and availability at the distillery; consultation and accommodation with student schedules will be made where possible.

How to Apply?

All applicants are asked to review the following Admission Requirements and Procedures.

Potential students will be required to show graduation from the Olds College Brewmaster & Brewery Operations Management diploma, or an equivalent knowledge base from other institution(s) or industry experience. On a case-by-case basis, strong standing after completing the first year of the Brewmaster Diploma may be considered for admission into this certificate.

Learn about the Brewmaster Diploma

If you are applying externally with an equivalent knowledge base from other institutions, please contact us at for further information on the process.

Current students of the Brewmaster & Brewery Operations Management diploma on track to graduate April 2017 are invited to apply for conditional admission pending final grades.

New: If you do not meet the admission requirements, there is an optional prerequisite course that can be taken. This online course, if passed, will signify the student has the necessary skills to enrol in the certificate courses.

Course Details

Introduction to Alcohol Science and Production | March 5 – April 27

Optional for those not meeting the program requirements for entrance into the program. 

This survey course is designed as a basic introduction to the science of alcohol production for the brewer and distiller in Alberta.  It provides an overview of the chemistry, math, biology and business principles necessary for success in further education in the brewing or distilling industry.  Great for potential management who will need to interact with brewing and distilling professionals, or those considering the Brewmaster & Brewery Operations Diploma or the Craft Distilling Certificate.

Topics include (but not limited to)

  • Overview of alcohol production methodologies
  • Overview of of the science of fermentation
  • Overview of the business principles behind alcoholic beverage production

Note - passing this course with a 65% average qualifies the student for admission into the Craft Distilling Certificate.  This course does not provide admission standing for the Brewmaster & Brewery Operations Diploma.

Required textbooks in this course:

  • Cantwell, Dick, Starting Your Own Brewery, Brewers Association 2nd Edition, Brewers Publications, 2013 - Cost for Student: Approx. $95

  • Palmer, J. & Colin Kiminski, Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers, Brewers Publications, 2013 - Cost for Student: Approx. $20

  • Mallett, J., Malt: A Practical Guide from Field to Brewhouse, Brewers Publications, 2014 - Cost for Student: Approx. $20

  • White, C. & Jamil Zainasheff, Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation, Brewers Publications, 2010 Cost for Student: Approx. $20

For purchase through the Olds College Campus Bookstore, contact 403.556.4630 or

Suggested reading, but not required:

Term 1: Fermentation Theory | May 6 – June 28, 2019

In this course students will learn about the most common ingredients used in the production of distilled spirits. From the field to processing and through fermentation, the raw materials and their role in spirit production will be examined. Students will also learn about the microbiology of fermentation and the role different microorganisms play in the distillery.

Term 1: Distilling Quality Management | May 6 – June 28, 2019

In this course, students will learn the basics for ensuring government compliance surrounding the production and sale of spirits. Quality management systems including hygiene and cleaning systems, their role in quality and profitability will also be discussed. Process control technology and automation in guaranteeing the quality of marketed products and branding will be addressed.

Term 2: Theory of Distillery Operations | July 8 – August 30, 2019

Students will learn the theory of distillation, distillation process equipment, and basic distillery practices. This course provides the background knowledge and theory that is necessary for the hands-on application that is offered in the Practical Distilling field study. Students will start their training in all aspects of the theory of distilled products.

Term 2: Blending, Maturation, and Sensory Evaluation of Spirits | July 8 – August 30, 2019

This course addresses common sensory descriptors and provides training for accurately detecting positive flavor contributors as well as taints and off-flavors in distilled spirits. Sensory evaluations will be conducted along the entire production spectrum from raw materials to final packaged product. Finishing spirits and flavor additions will be discussed along with the art of blending to achieve flavor targets. Students will also learn how the storage of spirits in wood and other types of materials can affect the final flavour of the spirit, and the chemical changes that occur during aging distilled products.

Term 3: Practical Distilling (Directed Field Study) | 2019 dates to be determined

Students will apply the distillery practices from the Craft Distilling program in a hands-on environment and assisting in the production of commercial spirits. Students will be exposed to all aspects of production, from raw material processing through packaging.

This is a capstone course for the certificate, drawing on previous courses and providing a hands on component to learning.  A 5 day field school component is required. 

Note: The 5 day field school component will take place within these term dates, based on location capacity. Students will be asked to select from available weeks during this time period.

Course Length: 4 weeks online, 1 week mandatory field school


  • Fermentation Theory

  • Blending, Maturation, and Sensory Evaluation of Spirits

  • Theory of Distillery Operations

  • Distilling Quality Management

Location: Online & Eau Claire Distillery: 113 Sunset Blvd NW, Turner Valley, AB T0L 2A0

Costs & Fees: TBD