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Beer Industry Program Faculty

Scott Kerkmans, C.C., B.J.C.P.

Instructor and Beer Industry Program director

Man smiling with a beer mug in his hand‌Specialty: Craft Beer Industry, Sensory Analysis, Entrepreneurship
Courses: Beer Styles and Service, Beers of the World, Brewery Operations, Sensory Quality Analysis of Beer

Scott Kerkmans currently teaches several beer related classes within the Beer Industry Program. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he directs the Beer Industry Program as well as professional relations with the beer industry. In the group of the first five Certified Cicerones in the world, Kerkmans is an expert voice in the world of craft beer and an advocate for beer education both at the professional level and in higher education. For three years Kerkmans has lead the Society of Beer Educators Roundtable Discussion at the Brewer's Association's Craft Brewers Conference. Kerkmans was a professional brewer for more than four years (most recently at Alaskan Brewing) and sold beer for a major beer distributor in over 80 on-premises accounts. A Nationally Certified Beer Judge since 2005 through the Beer Judge Certification Program, Kerkmans serves as judge and judge captain at the Great American Beer Festival annually. He helped found Draft Magazine and educated their editorial staff before being hired by Starwood Hotels as their Chief Beer Officer in 2008.

Kerkmans designed Starwood’s online training program for staff, used in more than 140 hotels worldwide, while also choosing beers used in Starwood’s hotel restaurants and hosting beer dinners and PR events around the world. Kerkmans is a leading professional educator for beer distributors, retailers, beer lovers, and brewers with his company Beer Conscious Training, where he has created eLearning, Video and In-person professional development courses. He is also the founder of Colorado Craft Beer Week and currently focuses his research on sensory analysis of beer.

Michael Wray, Ph.D.

Professor, Restaurant & Beverage Management

‌Specialty: Beer, Wine, Food and Beverage Pairing
Courses: Beer and Spirits, Beverage Fundamentals, Beers of the World

Michael Wray, Ph. D. has provided instrumental input into the vision for a public/private partnership that led to the creation MSU Denver’s hotel and hospitality learning center (HLC) and complementary laboratory classrooms. Wray has developed key partnerships with community and civic leaders for major events and charities such as Food for Thought-Denver and the Denver Food and Wine Festival. He recently developed the framework for the brewery partnership with the Tivoli Brewing Company, leading to $7 million facility enhancements to the Tivoli student union, establishing integrated learning laboratories for students studying brewing.

Wray worked with the development office to establish an advisory board to provide input into program development resulting in a pilot degree program in Brewing Industry Operations along with a minor. He worked with industry advisors and campus faculty to develop ten new courses in this program to include the course design, resource development, and instructor coordination. Wray holds multiple credentials in food and beverage including; Sommelier Diploma, Certified Wine Specialist, Master Certified Food Service Executive and Certified Culinary Instructor. 

Helene Ver Eecke, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Biology

Specialty: Extreme Microbiology, Fermentation
Courses: Brewing Fermentation

Helene Ver Eecke, Ph.D. teaches biology and is a founding member and intercollege-liaison of the Beer Industry Program at MSU Denver. Ver Eecke has been involved in the programs’ conceptualization and actualization, including co-developing the fermentation science course curriculum. To further prepare for these tasks she has shadowed at various fermentation facilities and quality assurance laboratories including Avery Brewery, Breckenridge Brewery, New Belgium Brewery, and UC Davis. As an avid home-brewer, she’s excited to further foster collaborations with the brewing community and expand brewing operations programs at MSU Denver.  She also actively runs biological QA/QC for Tivoli Brewing Company on the MSU Denver Campus.

As a specialist in extreme microbiology, her work has been featured in NASA Magazine, Science Daily and PNAS. Ver Eecke served as senior microbiologist for an industrial fermentation company where her skills of screening, cultivating, and optimizing microbes were expanded to large scale processes. Ver Eecke has been a professor of biology at numerous institutions and is currently a tenure-track professor at MSU Denver. She teaches General Microbiology, Microbial Ecology, and Fermentation Science, and is the faculty coordinator of General Microbiology. Ver Eecke’s research lab at MSU Denver is used to study various projects including brewing, bioremediation and extremophiles.


Ethan Tsai, Ph.D., C.B.S.

Lecturer, Beer Industry Program 

Specialty: Brewing Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Homebrewing
Courses: Brewing Quality Analysis, Introduction to Homebrewing & Fermentation, Beers of the World

Ethan Tsai is a lecturer in the Beer Industry Program at MSU Denver, specializing in brewing chemistry, materials chemistry, and soft matter physical chemistry.

He’s served as the master chemist for two startup companies, including a partnership with Eastman Kodak to develop next generation high efficiency passivating tinting film filters; and worked in established chemical industry with three years at 3M developing next generation adhesive technologies. He also runs the QA/QC program for Tivoli Brewing Company on the MSU Denver Campus. He has also been active in designing the physical space of the new Beer Industry Program Labs in the the Tivoli Student Union, which opened in January 2018. In Fall of 2018, he transitions from his role in Chemistry at MSU Denver, to a newly created position directly for the Beer Industry Program.

The research of the Tsai Research Group focuses on the relationship between molecular structure and super molecular structure, and explores new liquid-crystalline morphologies that have potential semiconductor properties for industrial applications ranging from photovoltaics to static field mitigation. Ethan is also an avid homebrewer where he has brewed many award winning recipes that have been poured at the Great American Beer Festival and won medals at the Big Beers, Belgians, and Barleywine Festival.

Michael B. Jacobs, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Chemistry 

Specialty: Physical, Analytical, Brewing, and Applied Chemistry
Courses: Brewing Science

Michael B. Jacobs is an assistant professor and teaches several chemistry courses within the Chemistry Department as well as Brewing Science within the Beer Industry Program. Before teaching he had several of years of industrial experience as a chemist in Food Science. Man holding up a tree and he is happy about it

Jacob's undergraduate research lab focuses on fundamental and applied spectroscopy research, energy/sustainability biofuel research, and quantitative and qualitative research in brewing science. Jacobs has participated in developing curriculum for the brewing science course and the brewing program as a whole. He has also been active in the planning for the new beer labs to be built at MSU Denver. 

In addition, he has consulted in the food and beverage industry extensively. He is part of the American Homebrewer's Association (AHA), has home brewed for 11 years and made wine for five years. He is excited and happy to continue developing collaborations with the craft brewing industry and co-developing a strong brewing program involved in brewing science operations and research at MSU Denver.  He teaches Physical Chemistry I/II, Survey of Physical Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Instrumental Analysis Lab, General Chemistry I/II, Principles of General Chemistry, and Brewing Science.

Bruce Warner, J.D.‌

Affiliate Faculty

Specialty: Beer and Wine 
Courses: Beers of the World, Wines of the New World, Wines of the Old World, Enology

Bruce Warner has a Sommelier Diploma from the International Sommelier Guild and has taught several courses at MSU Denver including Beers of the World, Wine Fundamentals, Wines of the Old World and Wines of the New World.

As a Certified Beer Server through the Cicerone Program, currently studying to become a Certified Cicerone, his knowledge was fundamental in the development Beers of the World curriculum and was the first to teach its inaugural course.


Cory Tipton, J.D.‌

Affiliate Faculty

Specialty: Liquor licensing, Alcohol Beverage Law, Hospitality Legal Considerations
Courses: Alcohol Beverage Law, Hospitality Law

Cory E. Tipton is the Vice President of The Tipton Law Firm, P.C. She has extensive expertise with clients in various administrative fields including all areas of liquor licensing and alcohol beverage regulation as well as casino gaming licensing in the state of Colorado.  Additionally, as a licensed pilot, whose first career was as a Commercial Pilot for the airlines, she continues to pursue her passion in aviation by working in the administrative area of aviation law. Woman Smiling

In her nearly 15 years of practicing law, Mrs. Tipton has focused much of her practice on regulated industry work.  She assists numerous clients in the liquor and casino gaming industries in Colorado. Additionally, Mrs. Tipton works with clients in all tiers of the liquor industry, and has assisted related trade organizations in the legislative and governance aspects of the alcohol beverage industry. Colorado is a hotbed for start-up alcohol beverage businesses, and Mrs. Tipton specializes in assisting new breweries, wineries, distilleries, beverage distributors, and retail liquor stores. Mrs. Tipton also represents clients in the casino gambling industry, and stays current on all forms of gambling and the legal issues surrounding them; including internet gambling, as it evolves across the nation. 

A Colorado Native, Mrs. Tipton is married to another entrepreneur who owns a local winery.  She is a graduate of both Metropolitan State University of Denver (in Aerospace Science) and the University of Denver, and Mrs. Tipton works everyday to give back to her community and those around her.  Mrs. Tipton is currently the Chair of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the Colorado Make-A-Wish Foundation.  She currently teaches Alcohol Beverage Law, (the first course of its kind in the country) and Hospitality Law for the Department.

Nate Nicklas, C.C.

Affiliate Faculty, Beer Industry Program

‌Specialty: Brewery Engineering and Mechanics, Brewhouse Operations
Courses: Brewing Mechanics, Beers of the WorldBald Male Smiling

Nate Nicklas graduated from MSU Denver in 2013 with a degree in Math with a minor in Physics.  After commencement, Nicklas went on to the University of Southern California where he earned a masters in math education.  After two semesters, he met my eventual wife and she asked some very deep questions about his educational ideology (most of which he was unable to answer as she was asking very good questions, being a master high school math teach herself).  After that point, she prompted Nate to look within for the career he wanted to pursue by asking what he was truly passionate about - he came back with math and brewing.  That was the beginning of his brewing career.  

From there Nate enrolled back at MSU Denver and quickly earned his Brewing Science Certificate.  During that time, he was offered an internship with Tivoli Brewing Company which quickly led me to a full time position which has culminated in the Director of Brewing Operations position, which he currently holds.  As well as his roll at Tivoli, Nicklas teaches a classes for the Beer Industry Program at MSU Denver (Beer Styles and Service, Beers of the World, and Brewery Mechanics).  


Andrew J. Bonham, Ph.D. 

Associate Professor, Chemistry

‌Specialty: Biochemistry
Courses: Brewing ScienceMSU Denver Professor Andrew Bonham

Andrew Bonham has experience in grant administration, curriculum development, biochemistry research, and biochemistry teaching. Bonham is the department chair in the MSU Denver Department of Chemistry, where he is an associate professor. He is co-PI on an active NSF-funded educational grant, Denver Metro Chem Scholars, which provides financial support and cohort-building activities for financially-limited students who intend to pursue graduate careers in chemistry. Bonham has an educational career focus on both biochemistry and effective pedagogy. 

Bonham regularly teaches courses in biochemistry, senior experience in chemistry, and biological chemistry. Bonham maintains and leads an active research program at MSU Denver, currently with 6 undergraduate students engaged in bio-sensory design and optimization experiments. As a seasoned home-brewer, Bonham has provided input in the design and structure of fermentation courses for brewing operations programs at MSU Denver.




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