University of Wisconsin students may think they know it all when it comes to beer, but a class offered at Babcock Hall is ready to school them.
For UW students with an interest in the beer industry and science behind brewing, UW has partnered with the Wisconsin Brewing Company to offer brewing classes at Babcock Hall, which began last week.
The collaboration is an opportunity for students to have a real-world experience when learning the art of fermentation and commercial production, Wisconsin Brewing Company’s president and co-founder Carl Nolen said. It gives students the opportunity to find a career path and employment opportunity in the craft industry, he said.
“The timing is right for something like this,” Nolen said. “It gives [students] a chance to learn all different aspects of the brewing industry.”
The partnership offers smaller breweries opportunities that would not exist, UW food science professor James Steele said. Students perform chemical analysis work for smaller beer manufacturers, he said.
“It probably wouldn’t be affordable if it weren’t coming through the university,” Steele said. “We really believe that for the industry we provide analytical and structural support.”
The department of life science will select a recipe and Kirby Nelson, WBC’s brewmaster, will formulate the recipe with some broad parameters of how the beer should be, Nolen said. The students then have the chance to work within the parameters to create a new product that fits in those guidelines, he said.
Brewing technology is advancing at a fast pace, he said.
“The question down the road is where are [future brewers] going to come from and where are the skill sets going to be learned to join this industry in our country,” Nolen said. “A program like this is a talking point, a great opportunity where different departments at the university can have real-life experiences related to classes that could help them get into the workforce.”
Previously the brewing program was struggling with funding and promoting the program, Andrew Lefeber, a food science major, said.
This course provides the opportunity for students to interact with the industry, Lefeber said.
“We’re actually going to be putting out a beer with Babcock’s name on it,” Lefeber said. “Even people who don’t read the paper and aren’t involved with the university are going to see our beer. That’s huge.”
The new product will become available for retail mid-May, Nolen said.
The food science program is working on creating a Fermented Beverages certificate for the 2016-17 school year, Lefeber said. In the future this will be a specialization that students can put on a resumé, he said.
Wisconsin is well known for its beer industry because it is locally produced and raw materials are sourced locally, Nolen said.
“Doing all these things that support our state is something that we’re really proud of,” Nolen said. “We’re pretty excited to see how these beers are going to taste and how they’re going to be received in the market.”