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College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management

  • Sandy Strick speaks with students in the Beverage Education Laboratory

USC’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management opens new beverage management facility

The beverage industry is an enormous and vibrant sector of hospitality and tourism, pouring a staggering $1.8 trillion into the global economy. At the University of South Carolina, it is an expanding area of educational excellence now supported by a new facility on campus.

The Beverage Education Laboratory is a new learning environment led by USC's top-ranked School of Hospitality and Tourism Management within the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management. The facility will advance hands-on education in beverage management, a field that plays a vital role in South Carolina's economy, generating more than 3,300 jobs and contributing $2.24 billion in direct economic impact to the state.

With state-of-the-art technology and professional-grade equipment, the laboratory provides an immersive educational experience for a diverse and growing portfolio of courses dedicated to the business of beverages. The lab is located on the first floor of the Close-Hipp building on USC's Columbia campus and is projected to host approximately 18 courses for up to 745 USC students during the next academic year.

  • Robby Lybrand teaches a class in the Beverage Education Laboratory

    Robby Lybrand, MBA

    Chef Instructor

  • Scott Taylor Jr. teaches a class in the Beverage Education Laboratory

    Scott Taylor Jr., Ph.D.

    Assistant Professor / Wine and Beverage Institute Assistant Director

It will also be home to USC's Wine and Beverage Institute, which leads research, trainings, industry collaboration and community outreach programs to advance beverage management knowledge and innovation.

"The Beverage Education Laboratory provides a realistic and customized environment to deliver curriculum, demonstrations and events in an engaging way and for a wide range of audiences," says Sandy Strick, an associate professor and founding director of the Wine and Beverage Institute. "This facility is designed to be an epicenter of beverage management excellence for both students and professionals, impacting education and industry advancement across the state and region."

Highlighted Laboratory Features:

  • A cutting-edge instructional bar, including three mixology stations, refrigerators, beer taps, a soda gun, prep sinks and glass rinses, as well as a comprehensive collection of specialized glassware.
  • Nano-brewing equipment for firsthand education in craft brewing, including fermentation science, brewing techniques and industry trends.
  • An eight-seat wine room for executive-style tastings and specialized training.
  • A commercial-grade espresso machine and grinder, and cold press juicers.
  • Teaching technology, including in-ceiling cameras for overhead viewing of demonstrations, 80" display monitors and Apple AirPlay connectivity.
  • Fully adjustable seating and tables for flexible classroom and event arrangements.

USC’s hospitality and tourism management program is widely acclaimed for its curriculum and faculty. It ranks No. 1 in the Southeastern Conference and No. 12 nationally for programs of its kind. The School of Hospitality and Tourism Management recently launched a new minor in beverage management, and the latest addition to its specialized teaching facilities will provide the infrastructure for the program to be at the forefront of beverage management.

Courses being offered at the new lab include curriculum on beverage management, beverage marketing and promotions, craft beer, global beverage distribution, social and cultural industry topics, distilled spirits, advanced topics in wine, non-alcoholic beverages, and more — providing students with a deep understanding of the history, trends, techniques and business practices of the beverage management industry. Some of the courses also incorporate industry certifications, such as sommelier, to enhance students' resumes.

The foundation laid here can open doors to a wide variety of careers, from frontline roles like brewmaster or sommelier to leadership roles in product development, sales, brand management, distribution and many more. These opportunities span a diverse range of industry sectors, from craft breweries and wineries, to coffee corporations and consumer packaged goods, to resorts and restaurants. 

"The beverage industry impacts every facet of hospitality and tourism. So, to ensure our students are competitive in the global marketplace, we needed to provide them with a thoughtfully designed space to learn about management, production, economics, distribution and development of a comprehensive range of beverages," says Robin DiPietro, a hospitality professor who led the development of the new facility during her tenure as director of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. "This lab shows the culmination of three years of teamwork, research and striving for excellence for our students."

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