FST 3 - Introduction to Brewing and Beer


COURSE GOALS: The course aims to introduce the student in a responsible manner to beer as a major international beverage and to brewing as a traditional yet highly controlled and innovative industrial process. It will encompass a description of the nature of the world's brewing business, how it has evolved and what the factors are which influence its shape and dynamics. The course will illustrate brewing as a good example of the application of a microbial process to the needs of mankind, but will also illustrate how a range of sciences (including plant physiology, chemical engineering, biochemistry, microbiology) also impinge on the conversion of barley and hops into beer. It will address in a manner accessible to those with only basic science knowledge: (a) the relevance of plant physiology and agronomy in respect of selection and cultivation of barley and hops; (b) an outline of the chemical composition of barley and hops and the significance for malting and brewing; (c) an explanation of the biochemical and chemical conversions occurring during malting and brewing; (d) an understanding of the relevance of yeast cell structure and metabolism to the production of consistent beer; (e) an appreciation of the impact which physics and engineering sciences have on the brewing process and on beer; and (f) an introduction to the sensory and psychophysics dimensions of beer quality. 

ENTRY LEVEL: This is an introductory General Education course for students requiring a course in Science and Engineering. There are no prerequisites. High school entry standards of science will be sufficient.

TOPICAL OUTLINE: History of brewing and brewing science - including U.S.

  1. The current world of beer - volumes brewed and consumed and where; types of companies; trends; costs.
  2. Beer styles and types - national styles, international styles, regional styles, beers differentiated on technology (e.g. dry, ice, light, low alcoholics)
  3. The place of beer in society - social impact, responsibility
  4. Brewing raw materials - basics of their cultivation.
  5. The place of microorganisms in brewing, both those which are desirable (viz. the brewing yeast) and those which are undesirable (spoilage organisms).
  6. Basics of malting and brewing processes and their underpinning science and technology.
  7. Introductory coverage of aspects of beer quality, including wholesomeness.
  8. Basic quality evaluation.
  9. The role of the scientist in brewing (and related industries) and also the nature of other functions and roles with major brewing companies.
  10. The future of the industry - an example of foresight exercises and relating vision to the implementation of research and training strategies.

GRADING PERCENTAGES AND COURSE REQUIREMENTS: The course will be examined using two mid-term examinations (50% of the total grading) and one final examination (50%). The examinations will be spaced equally through the course. 

EXPLANATION OF POTENTIAL COURSE OVERLAP: The only related courses are FST 102A and FST 102B. These are Upper Division courses which focus on the detailed science and technology of malting and brewing. The FST 102A lecture course addresses issues such as history, politico-economics and beer styles only very briefly. These elements will be removed from that course and introduced into this one in much more detail. FST 102A and FST 102B are intended for those pursuing career opportunities in the alcoholic beverages/biotechnology industry. FST 3 is intended for those seeking an understanding of brewing in a more general sense, as part of society, and also as a forerunner to what they might anticipate should they consider brewing as a career.

GENERAL EDUCATION DESIGNATION: The value of this course as a General Education class is that it comprises a remarkable example of how discoveries in a range of scientific disciplines have been melded into the development of processes that allow the consistent production of an international foodstuff, namely beer. The course will highlight the historical development of the process as it is today, highlighting the balance of "art" with science and the importance of traditional values. It will explain the evolution of brewing science and how successive development of knowledge has led to increasingly controlled and efficient process events. The course will address a range of attitudes, for example the perspective of the industry from the multi-plant, international brewing company and also from that of the entrepreneurial microbrewer. Additionally it will emphasize the social dimension of beer, in respect of the impact (positive and negative) of the drink on society, the relationship between its raw materials and outputs on the environment, etc. There will also be coverage of how many of the disciplines originally developed within brewing are now of broader technological significance, e.g. pure yeast culture, solid-liquid separation systems, fundamental measurement of parameters such as nitrogen and pH, etc. The student will gain an appreciation of the place of beer (alongside other beverages) in the global economy, and how it makes an important contribution to custom and habit. The messages of moderation and health (positive as well as negative) and social impact will be addressed.