In February of this year, I was invited by Maynooth University (MU) in Ireland to join colleagues from industry and academia in interviews and workshop seminars to advise and support the development by Maynooth University of Ireland’s very first Micro-Credentials syllabus and programme in Brewing and Distilling.

Irish Whiskey Blogger Stuart McNamara Maynooth University Micro-Credentials in Brewing and Distilling

Keynote Speakers included some of the leading minds in Brewing and Distilling in Ireland from the worlds of industry and academia.

The course has now been opened for applications and will commence in March 2023 under the leadership of Barbara Woods from the Department of Chemistry in MU and Dr. Jack O’Shea who many will know of as Master Distiller Emeritus of Pearse Lyons Distillery in Ireland and Alltech. Jack has recently been honoured internationally, being appointed as a fellow of the Institute of Brewing and Distilling (IBD) in the UK.


Dr. Jack O'Shea Irish Whiskey Blogger Stuart McNamara Maynooth University Micro-Credentials in Brewing and Distilling

Dr. Jack O’Shea speaking at the Consultation event.

Jack’s successor at Alltech Dr. Gearóid Cahill, now Master Distiller and manager of Slane Distillery also takes a lead role along with Dr. Cathal Connolly – Associate Director of Research, Alltech and  Daragh Cuskelly, MSc – Research Manager, Kerry Group

Maynooth University is working in partnership with colleagues across seven IUA Universities to establish a coherent national framework for quality-assured and accredited micro-credentials. This national micro-credentials framework will be the first in Europe.

Irish Whiskey Blogger Stuart McNamara Maynooth University Micro-Credentials in Brewing and Distilling

February 2022. Myself and other invited industry and academia representatives at the Brewing and Distilling Consultation Event in Maynooth University. It seems like a lifetime ago in a very different world.

IUA MicroCreds is a Human Capital Initiative funded €12.3 million project led by the Irish Universities Association (IUA) to empower learners on their journeys to life-long and life-wide learning through short, part-time courses known as micro-credentials.

Quoting the recent press release from MU:

“Designed in consultation with industry experts, this short course will cover the technical aspects of B&D such as Fermentation and Raw Material analysis and is aimed at those considering entry into the brewing and distilling industry, as well as those pursuing a wider knowledge of the industry.

Participants will receive the benefit of all lectures being delivered by industry professionals with hands-on practical experience by technical experts in our laboratories at Maynooth. Peer to peer learning and networking opportunities will strengthen business connections between participants and encourage an environment of knowledge sharing”.

Maynooth University Micro Credentials in Brewing and Distilling. Jack O'Shea, Gearoid Cahill Stuart McNamara Irish Whiskey Blogger.

Micro-credentials are short bursts of accessible and flexible learning that facilitate a ‘bite size’ approach to professional development and lifelong learning. With a part-time and flexible course structure, micro-credentials work around learners’ commitments and schedule. Put simply, Micro-Credentials are based on a series of short and “stackable” courses and accredited qualifications that facilitate a flexible and accessible modular learning model. The idea is that students can eventually build their credentials into a modular diploma or degree in easily accessible bite sized courses.

Irish Whiskey Blogger Stuart McNamara Maynooth University Micro-Credentials in Brewing and Distilling

As an example,

This first 11 week course in Brewing & Distilling Science is both co-designed and co-delivered by industry experts and will equip learners with the necessary scientific knowledge and instrumentation competencies to develop skills relevant to the alcoholic drinks industry.Topics covered will include:

  • Yeast: Introduction to relevant Analytical Techniques.
  • Environment & Sustainability.
  • Analysis in Fermentation & Raw Materials.
  • Distillation.
  • Sensory analysis & small molecule impact on flavour.
  • Quality: Process Control & Clean-in-place (CIP).

The course was created in response to the strong demand for an analytical course to support the growing Irish craft brewing and traditional whiskey industries. Maynooth University have designed this initial Micro-Credential course for students such as:

  • A new entrant to Brewing & Distilling (B&D) looking to upskill and develop applicable knowledge in QC and analysis.
  • A professional already in the B&D industry who is looking to upskill to enhance their career development.
  • A craft brewery or traditional whiskey distillery seeking a quality training opportunity to enhance employee skills.

Irish Whiskey Blogger Stuart McNamara Maynooth University Micro-Credentials in Brewing and Distilling

The course has been structured as :

  • 11 weeks of one-hour live online lectures provided by experts in the B&D industry followed by a 3-day hands-on laboratory experience working with Maynooth University experts in a modern lab setting.
  • Lecture notes, workshops, group work, virtual lab simulations and online quizzes will supplement your learning experience.
  • A Career Development Lecture by the Institute of Brewing & Distilling (IBD) – Irish Section.
  • Online activities (40%), lab practicals (40%) and end-of course assignment (20%).
  • Attendance to the laboratory practical sessions is compulsory and will take place for 3 consecutive days in June.

This flexible learning model has been designed to allow access by students who may already have professional, personal or social commitments which would prevent or discourage them from embarking on a full time study programme.

Maynooth University Micro Credentials in Brewing and Distilling. Jack O'Shea, Gearoid Cahill Stuart McNamara Irish Whiskey Blogger.

Entry requirements
The entry requirements are a Level 8 award 2.2 grade, honours degree in a science background.  Prospective students who do not have a level 8 qualification, but have the equivalent in professional experience, may be eligible under the Recognition of Prior Experiential Learning (RPEL) route.Visit our Recognition for Prior Learning webpage for further information and complete the RPL application form. This means that someone who may never have been in formal third level education may still be accepted onto the courses based on years of relevant industry experience being recognised in place of academic qualifications. This recognition of Life Long Learning has been one of the unsung successes of the Irish education world, capturing and nurturing talent and experience which may otherwise have been ignored or lost to sectors and industries.

On successful completion, Learners are awarded a Maynooth University accredited Certificate of Completion from the Department of Chemistry. Academic Credits are also awarded which can be used towards the total number of academic credits required for a more formal qualifications such as a diploma or degree. As I mentioned earlier, Maynooth are planning additional complementary modules which students can  add to their portfolio of MicroCredential awards. A key recommendation from myself and my fellow industry partners during the consultation process was that Maynooth and IUA should map out a runway or road map for both brewing and distilling study journeys so that students interested in either or both disciplines can identify which and how many Micro-Credential courses they are required to combine or bundle to build a portfolio of credentials which when stacked or combined, qualify students for the award of formal certificates, diplomas and degrees under the National Framework of Qualifications structure in Ireland.

Suggested study areas for future micro-credentials could include product development, maturation, warehousing, bottling and packaging and even food business and tourism modules. The future for the Irish drinks sector is quite exciting.

This course will run part-time over one semester commencing on 6th March 2023 for 12 weeks and costs €600 for which grant support may be available for qualifying students or companies.


For more information contact the course coordinator Barbara Woods Chief Technical Officer Maynooth University Department of Chemistry

See for full details.

See also these links to PDF information fliers.

Maynooth University_Micro-credentials Flyer_v2

MAYNOOTH UNIVERSITY_Micro-Credentials_Brewing_Distilling




Whiskey Blogger
Whiskey Blogger

Stuart McNamara (@WhiskeyBlogger) is an international Whiskey Blogger who edits several International Whisk(e)y and Whiskey Tourism sites including and He is Chair of the Irish Craft And Artisan Distilleries Association (ICADA) and is an elected member of the National Council of ISME, the Irish SME Association. He is also the creator and editor of International Irish Whiskey Day which is celebrated on 3/3 or 3rd March each year and had a global social media reach in 2021 of over 20 Million. He is a Director of Portmagee Whiskey and has also acted as both a brand and product development consultant to several other Irish Whiskey and other spirits producers.

International Whiskey Reviews by Irish Whiskey Blogger Stuart McNamara