Asia Brewers Network

Vietnam-based brewer wins prestigious scholarship

30th March 2021

One of Southeast Asia’s up-and-coming young brewers has been awarded a high profile brewing scholarship.

Vietnam-based Enrique Leyva has received the inaugural Michael Jackson Foundation’s (MJF) Sir Geoff Palmer Scholarship Award for Brewing.

The Sir Geoff Palmer Scholarship Award for Brewing funds tuition and course materials for brewing science and technology courses, including courses offered by The Siebel Institute of Technology, American Brewers Guild, UC Davis, and others.

The scholarship’s namesake, Sir Geoff, is Professor Emeritus at Herriott-Watt University, the first recipient of the brewing industry’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize (in addition to a knighthood) and a staunch advocate for human rights.

The MJF is named after Michael Jackson, best known as the ‘beer hunter’ whose writing and television content brought craft beer back into the mainstream.

Mr Jackson was also an active opponent of racism and reportedly a proud supporter of social justice beyond the alcohol industry.

The Foundation is chaired by one of the giant’s of the beer industry Garett Oliver. 

Mr Oliver has been the brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery since 1994, in addition to authoring several books and editing The Oxford Companion to Beer.

Mr Oliver’s stewardship of the MJF supports education and career opportunities for black, indigenous, and people of colour in the brewing and distilling industries.

Back to Mr Leyva. His career began in the United States, where he rose from intern to Head Brewer at Hamilton Family Brewery over a period of four and half years.

Mr Leyva has lived in Vietnam since 2019, working with Heart of Darkness Brewery during a period of rapid expansion in export and contract brewing. Since 2020, he has also worked with up-and-coming, street culture-oriented Deme Brewing.

“The Michael James Jackson Foundation has presented me with the dream I have sought to achieve since my first homebrew in 2013. Being awarded the Sir Geoff Palmer Scholarship for Brewing has instilled a confidence in my abilities and an understanding of my self-worth and my creative potential,” Mr Leyva shared with Asia Brewers Network.

“Thanks to the legacy of Sir Geoff Palmer, a world-renowned brewing scientist and a racial equity and human rights advocate, this scholarship also presents a platform to represent my community in the beer industry and me.”

“As a first-generation Chicano and the son of Mexican immigrants, this is a chance to show that we are hardworking and creative people that have the potential to succeed and excel in any industry.”

Mr Leyva plans to use the scholarship to apply to the Master Brewer Program at the University of California, Davis in the United States.

Outside of the MJJ Foundation’s efforts, efforts to improve diversity and inclusion in the beer industry have accelerated in recent years around the Asia-Pacific region.

A notable example is Pink Boots Society’s Hong Kong chapter’s expansion, with their efforts – like brewing a pink ale called ‘Resting Bitch Face’ to promote greater women’s involvement in the beer industry.

Young Master Brewery’s Jess Li was also awarded a scholarship recently by the society to help further her brewing education, adding to the list of regional brewers gaining global recognition.

Article by:

Oliver Woods

Oliver Woods

Oliver is a marketing strategist by trade and a craft beer enthusiast by choice. He is the co-founder of Kakilang Brewing Company, a nomadic nano-brewery and lives, works and drinks in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam.

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