‘Training for careers not jobs’
STC Brewery grads first in state to become professional brewmasters
Beginning L-R: Dr. Carlos L. Margo, STC Associate Dean of Industry Training and Economic Development; Desi Holmes, TWC State Apprenticeship Director; Joseph Kamel, STC Professional Brewmaster Graduate; Dr. Ricardo J. Solis, STC President; Julian Alvarez III, TWC Commissioner Representing Labor; Daniel Kamal, STC Professional Brewmaster Graduate; Seby Haddad, District 5 McAllen City Commissioner; Dr. David C. Plummer, STC Vice President of Information Services & Planning; Javier Villalobos, McAllen City Mayor and Jorge Castillo, Representative of Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa are pictured at the Professional Brewer Apprenticeship Program Graduation Ceremony, Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021.
What started out as a question from a local brewery to STC Vice President, Dr. David C. Plummer to Dr. Carlos L. Margo, STC Associate Dean of Industry Training and Economic Development in starting a new apprenticeship program; underwent strategic planning to make what would become the first brewery apprenticeship program in the state of Texas.
Two brothers, Joseph and Daniel Kamel are Texas’ first two brewmasters to receive their certificate in professional brewing with STC. The duo who are also known for owning and operating Brewsome Brewery on N. 10th St., in McAllen, TX have made them entrepreneurs at the same time. Though the two have their bachelors in the opposite field, Joseph with a B.A. in Economics and M.B.A. in Business Administration and Daniel with a B.A. in Marketing say it helps run the business side of things.
“None of which prepared me for brewing except obviously the administrative part for accounting and bookkeeping but not for the scientific or mathematical part of brewery,” shares Joseph. “It was just a completely random experiment and we wanted to make better beer.”
That random experiment came from their father who noticed local craft breweries popping up and said they should look into opening one up. That’s when Daniel started the scientific madness of brewing beer in their garage three years ago.
The beginning of the apprenticeship program started in 2019 when Mission’s 5X5 Brewery Co. were looking to expand in finding professional brewers. That’s when the need for trained individuals was asked about by approaching Dr. Plummer.
“5X5 wanted to expand their production and couldn’t find trained professionals,” said Dr. Plummer.
Talks on developing a new apprenticeship program between Dr. Plummer, Dr. Margo and Texas Workforce Labor Commissioner, Julian Alvarez III made it a reality.
We looked into it and made it happen,” said Dr. Margo. “It was just a matter of funding, and we had our commissioner Julian Alvarez who really helped kick off this program.”
The grant proposals were competitive throughout the state, but with the help of Alvarez, Desi Holmes with the Texas Workforce Commission Director of Apprenticeship and STC’s team under Dr. Virgina Champion were able to enroll students like the Kamel brothers into a rigorous program.
"This is not just a certification as a professional brewer, but this is a department of labor journeymen credential that they are receiving,” said Dr. Margo.
STC’s Brewery apprenticeship program typically takes a year to complete, but with the ongoing pandemic, the brothers finished in two. The program itself did take a higher level of mathematical and science skills with courses like Malting Biochemistry, Sensory Science, Engineering in Milling and Malt Handling, Brewhouse Calculations, Engineering in Fermentation and others needed.
“Now that we finished the program, we know what to do with our beer and are very pleased with the final product,” said Daniel.
With South Texas College adding this new apprenticeship to their list of other certification offerings, Julian Alvarez credits the college for being the forefront of training.
“We’re excited to see this apprenticeship program actually completed and verifies and confirms that we’ve expanded the apprenticeship model to other fields,” said Alvarez referencing I.T., Health and now Brewery. “South Texas College has always been in the forefront of training and regardless of what the training was, STC has always been in front of that.”
The Kamel brothers’ parents were in attendance as well as City of McAllen Mayor, Javier Villalobos; District 5 McAllen Commissioner, Seby Haddad; Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa Office Representative, Jorge Castillo; Kristy Caviness, TWC Employer Engagement and Community Outreach Manager; Dr. Rodney Rodriguez, RGV FOCUS Executive Director; Dr. Virginia Champion, STC Executive Director for Resource Development Management; Dr. Rachel Sale, STC Dean of Distanced Education; Kim Moore, STC IAM Project Training Specialist; STC Board of Trustee Paul R. Rodriguez and STC President, Dr. Ricardo J. Solis.
The Kamel brothers are grateful for STC’s staff, and their time and the funds needed to kick start the program.
“South Texas College is very proud in being able to address the needs of the workforce and most importantly provide innovative results and opportunities for our students,” said Dr. Solis.