I recently (October 19-November 1 2013) took the on campus Concise Course in Brewing Technologies at Siebel (2 weeks in Chicago as opposed to 3 months online...same price as online + expenses). I would recommend this class to anyone considering going pro. I am enrolled in the Master Brewer Program which will begin in February and end late July, and once I come back and get my own thing going, the Concise Course (on campus) will be budgeted into the capital expenses for any hands on partners/brewers I have join the team.
It was intense (9am-5pm M-F) with each day broken into one hour (a few presentations lasted 3 hours) lectures. When the 2 weeks was up, we had touched on literally every aspect of commercial beer brewing, from safety to packaging and everything in between. We also had several sensory panels (Budweisers spiked with off flavors) as well as styles tastings, and that was pretty cool. The concise course and Master Brewer program get a lot of material from the Kunze book (which I am working my way through now in preparation for next year).
The teachers were great. One was the brewmaster for AB for 27 years at various factories, and brought that knowledge to the table. He was much better on the production side of things than he was on the raw materials, but that was no big deal. Another was Matt Bryndison (sp?) brew master at Firestone Walker. What an incredible knowledge base that guy was. One was the packaging manager for MillerCoors for 22 years. Another teacher had gone through the Diploma program a few years ago, and has worked in the industry since, and he brought a real life "been there done that" kinda knowledge base to the table. Keith was hilarious, and Lyn, the president was awesome.
We had a South Korean, a few mexicans (Modelo), 2 canadians, a guy from Israel, a guy from MillerCoors, quality control girl from Kona, people who had never brewed before, people from Smirnoff parents company Diago, homebrewers, and people working in the industry on all size systems.
Siebel's new facility is in the bottom floor of Kendall College, which is a pretty awesome culinary school. For $5/meal you could choose from one of three food areas: the cafeteria (where I ate exclusively) which had several stations and things ranging from beef and barley soup to reubens to lobster (yes, good lobster for $5); the quick serve restaurant (order at one counter, pick up at the other), and a sit down restaurant that you could have wine at, with servers and the whole nine yards (you had to make a reservation...yes, for $5). The Kendall faculty was nice enough (once we learned the no hats in the cafeteria rule), and the students were friendly. Many conversations were started based on our name tags and that we were brewers. As a Siebel student, we also got discounts at some local establishments (20% off at goose island, 10% off at haymarket and some hotdog place).
The most fun part was the bier stube, which was the free (well, you paid a s*** load for it) beer on tap and in the fridge just about 15 feet from the classroom door. We would go up and eat lunch, and come back down and have beers, go back to class, sometimes have beers in between classes, and after classes, the teachers would come out and drink with us and we could pretty much ask them about anything. During the school hours we were on a pretty tight schedule, so while discussions and questions were encouraged, we had to keep the class moving, so we could revisit topics and talk specifics after class.
The "books" were 2 inch binders packed to the gills. One for each week. It was kind of intimidating, but once you figured out what worked best for you (some had binders and a spiral, some binders and laptop and spiral, some taking notes in binder, etc) it wasn't too bad. There was one test at the end of the 2 weeks. We definitely had to study, but if you have commercial brewing experience, you have a jump on the game. The last 8 months or so working in a brewery really gave me a good base of knowledge to build upon.
If you are serious about brewing, and want to do it on a commercial scale, for yourself or someone else, I would highly recommend the class.
Hope this helps. feel free to PM me (i don't get on here often though, so email is probably best bet) or email me at motleybrews at gmail dot com if you have any specific questions and i will do my best to answer.
beer styles tasting
the bier stube
i was using the binder and an iPad at one point