A Toast to Tastemakers: Students get a first draft in brewing with on-campus opportunities

W&J students with an interest in brewing can start learning the tricks of the trade in the chemistry lab.

As part of Professor of Chemistry Robbie Iuliucci’s Chemical Measurements (CHM 385) course, students perform sensory analysis and lab experiments to test basic beer characteristics.

“I wanted to have science fun with my hobby of brewing and knew students would enjoy it,” Iuliucci said.

The brewing curriculum was first offered as a Special Topics course for students in the major before Iuliucci merged aspects of the class with CHM 385, which teaches students how to make accurate measurements using advanced instruments.

Iuliucci designed the lab experiments in the course around a mock company called ACEZ, an acronym for Analytical Chemists Exploring Zymology (the science of fermentation). The mock company provided testing services for the home brewer as well as research on home brewing methods.

While working for ACEZ, students used high-end lab instruments to analyze the chemical composition of certain beers. At the end of the semester, the class held the ACEZ symposium, during which students presented their work to local home brewers.

The class continues to evolve and will incorporate other topics going forward, but Iuliucci plans to keep the theme of brewing as part of the course.

Students can also get involved in brewing through ChemFest.

Chemistry and biochemistry majors brew several styles of beer for the annual event. Brewing starts in Swanson Science Center in November, with fermentation and secondary conditioning occurring through December. The beer is moved to kegs and carbonated in January and is ready for consumption in February.

This was the fourth year for the event, which raises funds for student travel to conferences. Most recently, the event supported five students presenting their research at the American Chemical Society conference in San Francisco in April 2017.