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Forget Just Drinking It: Students Love Beer Brewing Classes

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College students and beer go together like peanut butter and jelly, but there’s more to it than keg parties and College Night at local bars. Thanks in part to the growing homebrewing trend; more and more students are brewing beer in addition to drinking it.

Homemade beer is actually nothing to laugh about. It is a chemical process that involves plenty of scientific experimenting, finding and perfecting recipes, and learning how to safely package and preserve the beer.

Yale Students Brewing Beer

Brewing homemade beer has become increasingly popular among Yale University students over the past few years. Students enjoy perfecting their beers and learning from their own mistakes, as well as from one another.

Groups of beer-loving college students like Shane Hetzler, who is interested in making beer with organic ingredients, are brewing in dorm rooms, basements, and off-campus apartments. “If you talk to any brewer, they are going for the finest ingredients: fresh hops, not laden with pesticides,” Hetzler told the Yale Daily News last year.

Beer Brewing Classes at Colleges and Universities

In addition to students who are teaching themselves or learning to make homemade beer from friends or relatives in their free time, several colleges and universities across the country are starting to offer beer brewing classes. Most undergraduates are not even of legal drinking age, but it’s not as bad as some people may think. Brewing beer is a science as well as a culinary technique. The Daily News explains that engineering and chemistry students are especially interested in—and talented at—brewing.

Appalachian State University in Boone, NC offers a Bachelor of Science in Fermentation Sciences, which prepares students in fermentation sciences, wine and brewing sciences, food science and technology, and more.

This fall, Rice University in Houston will be offering Beer Beyond the Hedges, a seminar involving field trips to two of Houston’s craft breweries as well an on-campus lecture and beer tasting. A group of Rice students are also working on a genetically-engineered beer containing resveratrol, a compound found in wine that has been found to help reduce cancer and heart disease in lab animals. “BioBeer,” as it has been dubbed, will be entered in the International Genetically Engineered Machine— iGEM for short and the world’s largest synthetic biology competition—in November.

“It’s basically just chemistry — and we are all scientists,” reminds Yale graduate student Katie Dana, who learned how to brew sourgum beer after learning she was allergic to gluten. “It helps understanding the fermentation process when you’re tweeking on your own.”

Want a Career in Beer?

It’s only natural that people who are willing to take college courses about brewing beer would like to work in the industry. After brewing a batch of beer with buddies in someone’s garage after receiving a home brewing kit as a “gag gift,” Ryan Petz of Minneapolis discovered a new hobby that quickly grew into a passion. Petz and his friends eventually founded Fulton Beer, using that same recipe they brewed in a garage.

Bloomberg Businessweek reports that Petz enrolled in graduate school to study business and learn the ins and outs of marketing, also taking courses in entrepreneurship. Business classes and self-learning led to a full-time position at General Mills, and he continued to run Fulton Beer on the side. He eventually left the full-time gig to help run his own brewery. Four brews of Fulton Beer are currently available in the Twin Cities.

Are you also interested in pursuing a career in beer? Visit Careers.StateUniversity.com for additional information, including these possibilities:

Brewer, Average Salary $46,000

Bar Manager, Average Salary $49,000

Beverage Industry Worker, Average Salary $48,000

President Barack Obama Talks Beer

College students who are on the fence about the election this November may be pleased to know that the President is also a fan of beer. President Barack Obama purchased a home brewing kit for the White House kitchen, according to the official White House Blog, and his brews have become quite popular.

The Des Moines Register reports that Obama has even offered samples of the White House’s home brew during campaign stops, and the President appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman last night, where he discussed the practice with the talk show host. “It’s tasty beer .. If the presidency thing doesn’t work out, we’ve got a little microbrew thing going on," he joked.

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Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.


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