ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – Central New Mexico Community College is cultivating the next generation of beer-makers in our state. Its brewing program is only a few years old, but it’s already rated as one of the top programs in North America. 

There’s a lot brewing at CNM these days. Their two-year brewing and beverage management program is the only one you can find in New Mexico. It launched in 2016 after local breweries told CNM they needed help. 

“We are training the next generation of brewers in New Mexico, the brewing industry reached out to us and said they needed more qualified applicant pool,” said Nick Jones, an instructor with the program. 

According to staff, there are now 85 breweries in New Mexico, with 60 in the Albuquerque Metro area alone. As the brewery industry continues to grow, so does the CNM program. It now has 167 students, even drawing a handful from out of state. It was also recognized by the Master Brewers Association of the Americas as one of the top programs in North America. 

“We have students all over Albuquerque and all over the state working in the brewing industry, so as long as they keep going out there and getting jobs, I think we’ll have a job to do here at CNM,” said Jones. 

The faculty said what sets this program apart is its more hands-on approach. “But what we’re training our New Mexico workforce for is the actual skills brewers are going to be using in the brewery working their way from the ground up,” said Jones.  

One of the first students was David Pacheco, who is now the head brewer at Turtle Mountain Brewery in Rio Rancho. He said he developed essential skills at CNM and hopes others will take advantage of the program. 

“It’s humbling to come from CNM and actually make something of it,” said Pacheco. “Is nothing but my gratitude in return I only wish to do them some honor.”

The college is planning to break ground in the spring on a new beverage manufacturing facility on campus. It should be completed by the fall of 2021.