Engineering students have 3-D printers, art majors have canvases and soon fermentation science and technology students will have two brand new breweries.
In Fort Collins, the local beer industry contributes a significant amount of revenue towards the city’s economy. There are more craft breweries in the area per capita than anywhere else in the country.
Taking the town’s abundance of craft breweries into account, Colorado State University allows prospective brewers the opportunity to major in fermentation science and technology. The department offers the next generation of brewers the education and experience needed to succeed in the rapidly growing industry.
After more than a year of construction, the newly renovated Lory Student Center is set to open this fall, just in time for the upcoming semester. The Student Center will be home to an updated Ramskeller, which will feature a production-size microbrewery.
In addition to the Student Center Microbrewery, the FST department is also creating the Gifford Pilot Research and Educational Brewery, a smaller, one or two barrel brewing system that will be built in the academic center of the Gifford Building.
Jeffrey Callaway, Director of Industry Outreach for the FST department, said funds are still being raised for the small batch system. He hopes it will be ready to brew by spring 2015.
“The brewery in the academic center will be designed intentionally for education and research,” Callaway said. Beers produced by the Gifford Pilot Brewery will not be available for sale.
Students enrolled in the FST program will first learn the craft by using the smaller brewing system.
“Then, they’ll apply that knowledge to the production brewery that’s at the Ramskeller,” Callaway said.
The Student Center Microbrewery will be used to brew larger batches that will be available for purchase at the on-campus pub.
“Ideally, we’ll have one or two taps at the Ramskeller,” Callaway said.
Although the two new breweries will allow the department to brew more beer than ever before, Callaway said the primary goal of the program is to educate, not sell barrels of beer.
“Our beer will never be sold exclusively,” Callaway said. “We have no interest in that. This is a completely collaborative effort.”
A large glass wall will separate the Student Center Microbrewery and the Ramskeller, allowing customers to watch the FST department’s beer being brewed firsthand.
“Brewing beer is just like another form of art,” said Corey Runyon, a junior applied computing technology major at CSU. “I think it’s great that the program is supported by the University.”
Although CSU was not the first college to develop a department dedicated to brewing science, the University is one of only three schools in the nation that offer an undergraduate degree in food and beverage fermentation.
“I think it’s a fantastic program for the school,” said CSU sophomore Allison Smith. “It makes total sense.”
Callaway said there is more to brewing than just making the beer.
“We’re not only wanting to teach students ‘here’s how to brew beer: mash, add water, boil it,'” Callaway said. “We’re wanting to dive into the concepts.”
Since 2008, the FST program has brewed with equipment that was donated by Odell Brewing Company.
The department, only a year old, has received a considerable amount of support from the industry. Earlier this month, Odell donated $100,000 to the department. In April, Anheuser Busch gave $250,000.
In a CSU press release, Corkie Odell, co-owner of Odell Brewing Company, said that although their recent contribution was intended to benefit the craft brewing industry in its entirety, she hopes FST graduates become the company’s future brewmasters.
Collegian Staff Reporter Erick Plattner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.