Thursday, January 4, 2007

Chemistry Education and Beer

Let's face it, beer brewing is a science and an art. But mostly a science as far as I am concerned. The more I learn about brewing science, the more interested I become. My goal is to convey the things I learn via this blog.

The Spring semester starts on Monday. This semester I am teaching General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Principles of Biochemistry (your typical light load). I would love to incorporate some brewing science into my Biochemistry course. From the enzyme activity on starch during a mash to the isomerization of alpha acids from hops during the boil, brewing IS Biochemistry.

However, since our campus is a "dry" campus (except during the faculty and staff Christmas party), the administration may frown on this idea. I don't blame them. Brewing beer in a class on a dry campus sends mixed messages. I have fermented alcohol using sugar and baking yeast in Organic chemistry to do a distillation lab, but the point of this is not to make something that can be consumed. One of the obvious and most important qualitative analyses that should be done with beer is tasting it. The point of brewing is to make something that tastes good and is enjoyable to consume.

I will relate a few brewing anecdotes when appropriate, but I won't be brewing in lab.

Maybe someday, I'll open a beer brewing institute in my home.

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