Virginia Brewer Leon Harris Wins First Auburn/CANarchy Diversity in Brewing Fellowship Award

Charlotte Tuggle | Communications Editor

The College of Human Sciences at Auburn University has awarded Brewing Science and Operations student Leon Harris with its inaugural Diversity in Brewing Fellowship Award.

The CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective and Oskar Blues Brewery Annual Fellowship for Diversity supports one student per year who demonstrates good academic standing, with preference given to those who demonstrate financial need and attended a historically black college or university. Recipient Leon Harris is a U.S. Air Force veteran who currently serves as a brewer at the award-winning Port City Brewing Company in Alexandria, Va. For the past eight years, Harris has been building his reputation as an expert brewer across the mid-Atlantic region. He is an alumnus of the Brewers Association Mentorship Program and hopes to one day open his own craft brewery.

“To be the first recipient of this prestigious award is humbling and an honor. Working in this industry, meeting and speaking with other like-minded individuals and promoting diversity within this industry is just as important as any other job,” Harris said. “I look forward to and welcome the challenges that Auburn has to offer and I will make sure to leave a lasting mark within this industry which I love so dearly.” The $18,000 fellowship award – which covers the total cost of tuition in the Brewing Science and Operations graduate program – is supported by the CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective, a collective of breweries dedicated to the advancement of craft beer, and one of its fundamental members, Oskar Blues Brewery.

As part of Auburn’s brewing program, students attend a weekend-long residency at the Oskar Blues Brewery in Brevard, N.C., or Longmont, Colo., to gain hands-on experience and insight into the operation of a world-class commercial craft brewery. Oskar Blues further partners with Auburn University on a number of scholarship opportunities and the instruction of best practices in the brewing industry.

“Leon’s passion for the craft beer industry was apparent from the very beginning,” said Aaron Baker, senior marketing manager for Oskar Blues Brewery. “We’re proud to sponsor this fellowship and give back to our industry and the great people within it doing great things. We can’t wait to see where Leon goes in his career and follow the positive impact he makes on craft beer.”

The College of Human Sciences at Auburn University offers both a Graduate Certificate and a Master of Science in Brewing Science and Operations. The programs are delivered through remote instruction, blending traditional education with real-world application to best serve brewing and distilling professionals seeking to advance their career.

“Leon is a true professional in the brewing community who fully understands the importance of combining continuing education with his passion for brewing and breaking down boundaries in the brewing community,” said Hospitality Management Department Head Martin O’Neill. “The faculty and I are supremely confident that he will benefit immeasurably from the program and move on to do even greater things. He has a passion for science, operations and the business of brewing and will be very much focused on a right-first-time, every-time approach upon completing his education. We wish him the very best and look forward to learning from his expertise in the field. We are also hopeful that he will pass this passion on to the next generation of brewers that he comes into contact with.”

For more information on the Brewing Science and Operations program at Auburn University, visit