Brewing Research

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Research focus

The primary research focus of the UC Davis Brewing Program reflects the changing needs of the brewing industry (and related industries).

The specializations cover issues of real pertinence to maltsters and brewers and primarily focus on quality of product from both industries.

Contact information and publications for Glen Fox, Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences.  

Amongst the key research themes: challenging some old dogma; we’re moving from content analysis to a composition analysis. Some research areas include:

  • Starch quality

Starch is responsible to the fermentable sugars. However, we still have lots to understand about starch structural quality, the efficiency of starch degrading enzymes on hydrolyzing starch and the fermentable sugar profile. Starch structure and fermentable sugars are rarely measured but critical in understanding fermentation efficiency. The latter is a considerable research interest.

  • Protein quality

Protein content is a single measure of hundreds of individual proteins including enzymes, structural proteins and other important beer proteins. Proteases are key enzymes hydrolyzing the storage proteins and other proteins but there is too little information about these enzymes. Unlike starch, where the enzymes are measured, for protein we measure a few proteins but not the protein degrading enzymes. These are a key research focus.

  • Real time measurement of quality

The industry is tied into a paradigm using old methods and units to measure quality. These have been reliable and will continue to be so. But we must now step up and build more real time measurement into the production flow to enable brewers to better control quality. Real time measurements include infrared technology, which can measure multiple parameters simultaneously, including sugars, gravity, color, bitterness, or ABV. This is an area of research that will have direct benefit to brewers.

  • The new world of ‘omics

A number of recent developments in malt and beer analysis is the use to ‘omics, such as proteomics and metabolomics. These new methods allow us to see hundreds or malt and beer compounds simultaneously. These technologies platforms will rapidly increase our understand of the impact of these hundreds of compounds on beer quality. We have the capacity to measure proteomics and metabolomics and link these to grain quality, malt quality and beer quality.

  • Climate change and brewing

Having observed first-hand the current impacts of climate change on grain development and quality, the slow response in some sectors to deal with this is alarming.  Integrating all of the above research areas will help us understand the impact of climate change on grain production, malting quality and brewing efficiency.

Please contact Glen Fox at 530-752-9476 or if you would like to discuss this research work and how to get involved in it.