Brew U

Feature by | Sep 2007 | Issue #9

Illustration by Mark Poutenis

Get Schooled
Brew schools are sort of like college—just with better beer.
By Michael Brodeur, Jeff Lawrence and Paul McMorrow

American Brewers Guild
Located in the ever-friendly state of Vermont, the ABG offers would-be brewers and professionals alike the opportunity to hone their skills and learn more about the profession without compromising their day jobs. For the seriously committed brewer who’s interested in a career in brewing, the Craft Brewers Apprenticeship offers hands-on training during the 27-week program, including five weeks at the end for on-site training at one of their chosen host breweries. For the brewer or owner interested in learning more about the science and engineering of brewing, they offer the aptly named 22-week Intensive Brewing Science and Engineering. Allowing for a more serious focus on the practical side of brewing science, this course offers brewers and owners the opportunity to take their brewing skills and knowledge to the next level. Both of these programs coincide with each other, and space is extremely limited, with courses generally selling out. [JL]

Whether you’re interested in a one-day refresher course, or three months knee-deep in wort, Brewlab, now accredited with the University of Sunderland in England, offers hands-on training for budding brewers. Founded in 1986, Brewlab’s programs offer a wide range of options, from the basic biology of brewing, to more advanced craft brewing workshops for those interested in someday running their own brewery. While brewing beer is generally and universally the same, some of Brewlab’s courses do focus specifically on British training practices and processes, including details on tax and excise concerns for owners as they relate to English law. So unless you’re planning to open up that Abbey Road Brewpub, or in fact work in the rich tradition of British Ale brewing, make bloody well sure you choose your courses wisely. [JL]

Doemens Academy
If you want to study art, are you going to head to Peoria, or Paris? It’s the same with beer. Munich’s the epicenter of the brewing world, and the town’s obsession with brewing quality and purity goes back, oh, 500 years or so. In that context, the Doemens Academy is a relative newcomer—it’s only been on the block for 100 years. The Academy’s English-language side operates in conjunction with the Siebel Institute and offers introductory and advanced brewer programs, as well as specialized seminars for industry professionals. The school also operates its own yeast testing facility and bank, plus a pilot malting, brewing and bottling facility; and offers instruction on the technical end of brewing. Plus, with Spaten, Hofbrau, Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr, Augustiner and Lowenbrau all headquartered down the street, there’s plenty of places to, uh, do your homework. [PM],

International Center for Brewing and Distilling
Like a sixer stashed in a half-fridge at the back of a dorm closet, the renowned International Center for Brewing and Distilling is tucked into Heriot-Watt University’s Department of Biological Sciences, just waiting to be discovered. It’s the only university in the UK to offer Honours (don’t forget that extra “u”) and Master’s degrees in brewing and distilling, the latter of which can be obtained via distance learning—once you secure your first degree. The interests of professor Paul Hughes, who serves as director, are a perfect reflection of the Center’s broad base of concerns—everything from the “biological activity and physiochemical properties of hop acids,” to how the “elusive quality image” for beer is determined through its many variables, to practical concerns of safety, innovation and—perhaps most importantly—success. If your studies get a little overwhelming, take heart; Edinburgh is a short skip away—as is a pint of Deuchars. [MB]

Master Brewers Association of the Americas
While the MBAA is primarily a professional network for those who need to be on the cutting edge of … well … fermentation, they also have an intriguing continuing education component. Let’s say that you just changed positions at the brewery where you work, or you’re starting a brewpub in your town, or you have a pestering curiosity about brewing but aren’t looking to pack your bags and disappear for a year; the MBAA’s twice-yearly short courses at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, provide two intense weeks of solid beer education. The fall course covers over 25 topics in brewing and malting, while the spring offerings cover brewery packaging and technology. If you can’t get enough of Madison, you can make a return trip for their Annual Convention and their various symposia through the year. Let’s not forget the most important detail, though: Der Rathskeller is, like, right down the street. [MB]

Siebel Institute of Technology
You could call it the Harvard of brewing—or perhaps, the MIT of brewing would be closer; but for its far-reaching reputation and renown, you might as well just call it the Siebel. There aren’t many brewing schools with such a comprehensive approach to the field. Their flagship WBA International Diploma takes advantage of both the Chicago and Munich campuses (though they also have facilities in Montreal and Durango, CO)—providing 12 weeks of training in brewing theory and technique, plus hands-on brewing experience in Munich and an 11-day European brewing study, which allows students to visit dozens of the most important outposts of European brewing culture, from breweries to hop and malt producers to equipment manufacturers. They don’t have a football team, but you’d likely be far too busy learning how to make truly incredible beer to notice. [MB]

UC Davis Extension Program
UC Davis’s pioneering brewing science programs have been among the nation’s most respected and rigorous, since their inception in 1958. Located up the road from where Anchor launched the craft brewing movement; and New Albion kick-started the microbrewing revolution, Davis’s Extension School programs are firmly rooted in the scientific fundamentals of brewing—cellular biology, organic and inorganic chemistry, physics, fluid dynamics and mathematics. It’s hardcore stuff, but the eight-week Professional Brewers certificate program and the extensive; 18-week Master Brewers program can catapult their graduates to the top of the industry. The school also offers a new distance-learning certificate program that’s the only one in the world accredited by the Institute for Brewing and Distilling. [PM]

UC Davis Department of Food Science and Technology
While Davis’s renowned extension program is geared toward post-grads, employees of the brewing industry looking to brush up and individuals who’re jumping into professional brewing mid-career, the school also lets undergrads play around in the fermenting tanks. The undergraduate program doesn’t offer a major in brewing, but it’s designed to give science and food tech students an in-depth exposure to brewing that the rest of us would kill for. Again, the emphasis here is on understanding the science behind brewing and promoting the type of conditions that let chemistry do its thing properly. The highlight here is, obviously, tons of classroom time in the university’s pilot brewery. [PM]

Studying for the Bar?
The honor roll of campus pubs.
by Paul McMorrow

It’s a fact that’s been proven over and over again: Reading makes you thirsty. As does avoiding the library—doubly so, in fact. And to be responsible for actually trying to educate the mouth-breathing illiterates collectively referred to as “America’s youth” That’ll make you reach for a pint. Which is why God invented on-campus bars.

Bear’s Lair Brewpub [closed]
UC Berkeley
The Bear’s Lair has been pouring pints, pitchers and yards to the Cal community since 1962. Berkeley’s on-campus pub is a reliable spot for a mid-afternoon or weekday evening pint, but it really heats up on weekends and game nights, when fans, students and the Cal band pack the place. Settle into a spacious booth on the outdoor patio, or crowd around the sizable main bar; gaze up at the bar’s goalposts, plundered from the 2002 big game; put a dent in your mug club card, and enjoy the kitchen’s tasty pizzas, calzones and sandwiches. Bartenders pour house brews (largely standard craft selections—ales and lagers dominate), beers from the nearby Jupiter brewpub and other local craft selections. Work your way down the tap list, and while you’re at it, curse out LBJ and Nixon for old time’s sake.

Boston University Pub 
Boston University
225 Bay State Road, Boston
A dark, slightly tattered bar tucked into the basement of Boston University’s Castle, the BU Pub is a welcome alternative to the school’s bustling, fast-food-heavy student union. The Pub isn’t an all-night destination, it’s a popular spot among students, faculty and their guests for lunch and early evening drinks. The stereo pumps out a steady diet of loud classic rock and the sandwiches are the best on campus, but the real draw here is the outstanding beer selection: Several dozen craft offerings (mostly bottled, alongside a carefully selected rotation of taps) make for a beer menu that rivals what the city’s best beer bars have to offer.

Der Rathskeller 
University of Wisconsin
BeerFly readers on rave that the University’s Rathskeller is “the best place to drink in Madison, possibly in the state of Wisconsin” and “the most enjoyable place to drink a beer that I have ever been to.” Who are we to argue? Madison’s campus bar has been at it since shortly after the death of Prohibition, and nobody does it better. The Rathskeller itself is a standard-issue German beer hall, but the outside terrace—a gorgeous spot overlooking Lake Mendota—is the real attraction here. The bar pours a rather standard lineup of imports alongside local craft beers served fresh from Bell’s, Gray’s and Great Lakes, in addition to their house Rathskeller Ale.

Legends of Notre Dame 
University of Notre Dame
Situated squarely on top of Charlie Weis’s lap—the place is so close to Notre Dame Stadium, you may as well be cheek-to-cheek with the coach—Legends is Notre Dame’s attempt at keeping pre- and post-game beers in-house and off the parking lot asphalt. We’re happy to oblige. Legends’s restaurant and pub pours two dozen taps, the bulk of which are devoted to local craft brews and imports from the likes of Fullers, John Courage and Spaten. They also contract four house beers from local brewers Three Floyds, Upland Brewing and Mad Anthony. Needless to say, on game days, the place hops; on off nights, DJs, bands and comedians pack the complex’s club. The bottle list is another pleasant surprise—there are over 60, repping the great breweries of the US, Britain, Germany and Belgian. And we’re guessing that, when pre-gaming with Rochefort or 120 Minute IPA, their glassware beats whatever’s lying around your dorm or the trunk of your car.

While you’re on campus, look up the Michiana Coalition of the Drinking. Their beer club is in no way sanctioned by the university, but they certainly know how to party with great taste.

Porter’s Pub 
University of California, San Diego
Porter’s has been medicating the UCSD community’s parched throats for nearly 15 years now. Located minutes south of historic Torrey Pines State Reserve and just blocks from La Jolla’s breathtaking cliffs and beaches, Porter’s also happens to be sitting in the middle of one of the nation’s richest brewing areas, and the cozy little bar takes full advantage of its prime location. Draft beers are culled from the region’s heavyweights—Stone, AleSmith, Pizza Port, Coronado and Alpine. Porter’s is “one of the better beer bars on any campus I have seen,” boasts one reviewer. “I wish my campus had a place like this, or maybe I don’t, I don’t think I would have graduated.” The atmosphere is “bare bones, kinda hippy-ish,” but with a “cool vibe” and “good music.”

The University of Chicago Pub 
University of Chicago
The Pub at the University of Chicago is already, hands down, the coolest, most fun spot to grab a burger and a pint in the school’s Hyde Park neighborhood. The place has two dozen taps, over 100 bottled beers, dirt cheap food (wings, fish and chips, sandwiches, popcorn and the like), karaoke, pub trivia, billiards and a nice jukebox. But the fact that this epic mess of a 30-year-old dive has been sunken into the basement of a U of C campus hall—a former women’s gymnasium, in fact—makes the whole venture that much more impressive. As far as beer selection goes, look out for whatever you like; if they don’t have it in stock, they’re likely to add it to their list. (The Maroon, the school’s independent student newspaper, shares the basement with the Pub. Coincidence, or journalism at its finest?)

Required Reading
Top shelf book-learnin’ for newbs and geeks alike.
by Michael Brodeur

Evaluating Beer
by Brewers Publications
Ask any learned beer geek who their favorite author is, and you probably won’t hear “Brewers Publications” in response; but then again, you never questioned who the hell Norton was in college, so take this anthology for what it’s worth. Charlie Papazian (see Microbrewed Adventures) offers a wonderful primer on evaluating beer; David Eby, PhD’s “Sensory Aspects of Zymological Evaluation” fulfills your science requirement; and other essays cover topics from beer flavors (both normal and ab-), flavor profiles and self-training in the art of tasting. For those about to respect beer, begin here.

Brewing Up a Business
by Sam Calagione
We wouldn’t bore you with some dull tome on the risky economics that come with ventures in brewing—but you can’t just jump into this craft-brewing biz cold. Or maybe you can? Dogfish Head head Sam Calagione has written a truly enjoyable account of his entrepreneurial origins, from his modest homebrew days to helming one of the most innovative breweries in all the land—and he’s done it with wit, a knack for storytelling and a preference for plain English that is all too scarce in business writing.

Great Beer Guide and Great Beers of Belgium; 5th Edition
by Michael Jackson
When it comes to Michael Jackson, we’re at the point where we’d read his grocery lists if we were given the chance. As detailed in our last issue,the man is, simply put, the absolute bomb-diggity of beer writers. In 1977, he published the groundbreaking World Guide to Beer, and since, he’s gone on to host his own TV show, pen endless articles and books about beer and, generally speaking, elevate the public discourse on beer to a long overdue level of seriousness—all without ever being boring. The Great Beer Guide and Great Beers of Belgium (together comprising about 1,000 pages of passionate, comprehensive beer geekery) are must-have references for any aspiring BA.

The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food
by Garrett Oliver
Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster Garrett Oliver has done something wonderful: He’s taken two of our favorite things and turned them into one. By demonstrating repeatedly the nuanced compatibility between fine beer and fine food, Oliver hasn’t just inspired the recipe collections of beer enthusiasts everywhere with his adventurous pairing ideas (drawn from Vietnamese, French, Thai and Mexican cuisines, among others) he’s made a significant contribution to the argument that beer is every bit as complex and versatile as wine, if not far more.

Microbrewed Adventures: A Lupulin-Filled Journey to the Heart and Flavor of the World’s Great Craft Beers
by Charlie Papazian
Traveling around the world with the sole purpose of drinking as much beer as you can sure does sound like the great American dream—but when the dream is done, you’ll be left with a great American hangover. Thank heavens for Charlie Papazian, founding president of the American Homebrewers Association, who has gone and done all the legwork for you—and brought back some amazing homebrew recipes in the process. For the beginning brewer with the gung-ho attitude, this book is an eye-opening survey of the possibilities of beer.

Grilling with Beer
by Lucy Saunders
Barleywine BBQ Pork? Rauchbier Beans? Cajun Beer Can Chicken? Porter Ginger Salmon Skewers? Do we even need to explain why we love this woman so much? With her undying enthusiasm for craft beer, her fearless experimental spirit and her affinity for bold flavors and hearty grilltastic fare, there is no better guide to the fine art of marinating, basting, mopping, brining and searing with beer than Lucy Saunders—though her BBQ sauce skills may be reason alone. A smart, fun cookbook with as much to offer in instruction as it does in inspiration, you’re gonna keep this one ever-handy in your apron pocket. Nice apron, by the way.

Beer Blast: The Inside Story of the Brewing Industry’s Bizarre Battles For Your Money
by Philip Van Munching
It’s great that you’ve gotten all excited about the world of brewing, but we’d better temper that excitement with a healthy dose of cynicism before somebody gets hurt. Penned by Philip Van Munching, the third generation of the family who serves as exclusive importer of Heineken, Beer Blast is an insider look at the skirmishes, conflicts, tactics, trends and ploys that make the beer industry the confusing, competitive calamity that it can sometimes be. Page through, and your basement brewery might not seem so shabby after all.

Photo by Derek Kouyoumjian

Photo by Derek Kouyoumjian

Campus Policy
8 simple rules for not flunking out.

1. Don’t drink to get drunk.
Nobody likes a drunk, except another drunk—then things just get messy. When it comes to craft beer, it’s all about responsible enjoyment. Drink beer for the sheer pleasure of it, not so you can summon the courage to make a dang fool of yourself.

2. Don’t indulge in sophomoric beer games.
It’s tough to speculate precisely what effect a ping-pong ball has on the flavor of, say, a fine Barleywine—but suffice it to say, those pursuits should be left to the experts. Focus your leisure time on more practical diversions. “Name That Brew” is always a good time, and trivia games like “Beer Smarts” are good for a laugh. If this sounds too lame, refer to rule #8.

3. Don’t drink your beer too cold.
If you believe the commercials, beer should be funneled through a hollowed-out glacier until it reaches tongue-numbing subzero temperatures. Refreshing! The truth of the matter is that extreme cold disrespects beer, masking the nuances from the malts, hops and yeast. Your parties can be tasteless, but your beers shouldn’t be.

4. Don’t drink out of the bottle.
Seriously. After all, it’s a well-known fact that most of what you taste comes from your sense of smell. A bottle does nothing to release the volatiles found in the head of properly poured beer in the appropriate glass. Slugging from a bottle is like blocking your eyes at a movie.

5. Don’t get too comfortable.
You have your favorite shoes, your favorite jeans, your favorite underwear—but change is important (especially on that last one). Beer drinkers who stick to one beer are just brand drinkers. By varying the brews you sample and trying new things without fear, not only will you educate your palate, but you’ll give the whole process a sense of adventure. You might surprise yourself.

6. Don’t buy with blinders on.
Like pizza and Pad Thai, beer is a food product. It expires and goes bad. We recommend that you check for “dates and dust.” If a beer is out of code or doesn’t have a born on/drink by date, don’t buy it. If there’s dust all over the bottles, that’s a good sign not to buy, too. Exception: beers that you know were just released to market.

7. Don’t store your corked beers like wine.
Despite the media calling it “the new wine,” beer is not the new wine. Corked beer typically contains sediment, so you’ll want to store your beer upright, ensuring that it compacts to the bottom for a cleaner decant. Exposing beer directly to cork may taint your beer, too.

8. Don’t fear your inner beer geek.
There’s nothing wrong with you. Embrace it! Sure, you will certainly be tagged as a geek or nerd, but you will always have better beer than those who tease you. Who’s laughing now? Just try not to be too much of a snob about it, and everyone will be fine.