Beer Career | Students at UNLV ditching books for booze

The 'Beers' class is part of the School of Hotel and Hospitality Management at UNLV. 11/16/16 (Sergio Avila | KSNV)

Under the dim lights of Hank's Fine Steaks and Martinis you'll find the appropriately named Bartek Pachron, a VIP bartender inside the restaurant at Green Valley Ranch. Bartek has been pouring beer at Hank's for nearly a decade. He says being familiar with what you're pouring is all part of the job.

"If you don't know the product, you're afraid to sell it, you're afraid to talk about it. You avoid it," said Pachron.

That same logic goes for bartenders interacting with customers and managers running the show behind the scenes.

"Both of our managers are very knowledgeable on all subjects, beer wine, and spirits," said Pachron.

From the dim lights of the bar to the bright lights of a UNLV classroom. Inside the Beers course, learning about beers and management is the focus. Jon Griffin teaches the course at UNLV's College of Hotel Administration.

"I love teaching about beer," said Griffin.

Griffin started as a home brewer, moved on to professional brewing, and considers himself a beer guy.

"They don't realize it's as complicated as wine if not more," he said.

It's those complexities he wants students like Serra Kumbasar to understand.

"I never thought beer could be complex and have different flavors from dessert beer to light beer to dark beer," said Kumbasar.

He pours about an ounce of beer per student. They try to sample about eight per class. Griffin says knowing beer basics is essential to running a successful restaurant, especially in Las Vegas.

In 2015, beverage sales in Las Vegas exceeded $1.2 billion according to the UNLV Center for Gaming Research.

"Alcohol and food are probably one of the biggest items for a profit in a hotel these days," Griffin said. "It's a fun class, it's a stress relief class that you can learn a lot especially if you're going in to the business."

The students take it seriously but again, this is about learning while having fun, because fun is good for business. And what's fun for college students?

"I get to drink beer," said Kumbasar. "You need to taste it to learn it."

Learning about food pairings, brewing and management are all part of the course.

"There's a lot of history to it. We learn that beer outdates bread, historically," said Adriane Nevarez, a student in the Beers class.

Nevarez is majoring in hospitality management and knows beer beverages equal big bucks.

The class meets every Monday. For these students, they say it's a good way to start the week.

"It's good to take this course if you don't have class after because obviously you're going to be a little relaxed," said Kumbsasar.

UNLV also offers courses in both wines and spirits. They're all part of the College of Hotel Administration and typically have a waiting list in order to enroll.

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