History & Focus
Dr. John Ewald Siebel founded the Zymotechnic Institute in 1868. He was born on September 17, 1845, near Wermelskirchen in the district of Dusseldorf, Germany. He studied physics and chemistry and earned his doctorate at the University of Berlin before moving to Chicago 1866. In 1868 he opened John E. Siebel's Chemical Laboratory which soon developed into a research station and school for the brewing sciences.
In 1872, as the company moved into new facilities on Belden Avenue on the north side of Chicago, the name was changed to the Siebel Institute of Technology. During the next two decades, Dr. Siebel conducted extensive brewing research and wrote most of his over 200 books and scientific articles. He was also the editor of a number of technical publications including the scientific section of The Western Brewer, 100 Years of Brewing and Ice and Refrigeration.
In 1882 he started a scientific school for brewers with another progressive brewer but the partnership was short lived. Dr. Siebel did, however, continue brewing instruction at his laboratory. The business expanded in the 1890's when two of Dr. Siebel's sons joined the company. The company was incorporated in 1901 and conducted brewing courses in both English and German. By 1907 there were five regular courses: a six-month Brewers' Course, a two-month Post Graduate Course, a three-month Engineers' Course, a two-month Maltsters' Course and a two-month Bottlers' Course. In 1910, the school's name, Siebel Institute of Technology, was formally adopted. With the approach of prohibition, the Institute diversified and added courses in baking, refrigeration, engineering, milling, carbonated beverages and other related topics. On December 20, 1919, just twenty-seven days before prohibition became effective, Dr. J. E. Siebel passed away.
With the repeal of prohibition in 1933 the focus of the Institute returned to brewing under the leadership of F. P. Siebel Sr., the eldest son of Dr. J. E. Siebel. His sons, Fred and Ray, soon joined the business and worked to expand its scope. The Diploma Course in Brewing Technology was offered and all other non-brewing courses were soon eliminated. Then in October 1952, the Institute moved to its brand new, custom built facilities on Peterson Avenue where we have remained for almost 50 years.
The fourth generation, represented by Ron and Bill Siebel, joined the Institute in the 1960's. In 1974, they helped introduce the concept of shorter courses. These courses, at two weeks or less in length, were designed to meet the specific training needs of a changing brewing industry. The longer Diploma Course in Brewing Technology has been maintained to this day as the in-depth course of study for the experienced brewer who wishes to maximize his career training.
Today & Tomorrow
Throughout this past century, the Institute has attracted an extensive global following. Our alumni span more than 60 countries and are found in almost every major brewery on earth. Our classes include a mix of participants from breweries of all sizes who hail from locations all over the world. This broad base of participants enhances the learning opportunity of each student by exposing them to differences in culture, equipment, methods and beer styles. In our formal lectures and demonstrations though, we focus their attention on one common theme: beer. Students may come to the Institute with the biases of their own particular brewing environment, but they all leave in the simple and honest camaraderie of being a brewer. We have a saying here at the Institute: "Not only do we teach our students, but we also help them to teach each other."
The Institute continues to focus on one basic theme as was published by Dr. J. E. Siebel in an ad in an 1893 Western Brewer. He stated, "The object of the Institute is to promote the progress of the industries based on fermentation, which is done by instruction, investigation, analysis and otherwise." The Institute thrives on research and constant improvement. In 2013, the Siebel Institute of Technology moved into its new campus facilities at 900 N. North Branch St. in the facilities of Kendall College in Chicago. The new Siebel Institute campus has incorporated many of the elements of our previous locations including the bar and furnishings from the famous Bier Stube, a favorite spot where students socialized after a hard day’s study.
The Siebel Institute of Technology and World Brewing Academy have been an important part of international brewing history for over 140 years, and we look forward to welcoming the future generations of brewers to our new home in the heart of Chicago.