UNC Adds Brewing Lab Science Program

Students will Learn Quality Control, Assurance Measures for Brewing Beer

The assembled equipment before it was disassembled and shipped to UNC from the Alpha Brewing's Lincoln, Neb., warehouse.

Courtesy Alpha Brewing Operations

Equipment to be installed this summer at a new lab for the Brewing Laboratory Science program at the University of Northern Colorado will provide hands-on learning for the next generation of scientists in the brewing industry.

The three-part program involves detailed study of brewing science, laboratory analysis of beer and its ingredients, and a brewery implementation course.

The new equipment, which arrived Friday, will allow UNC students and interns enrolled in the Innovation@UNC program to work alongside Chemistry Professor Michael Mosher to apply laboratory principles of quality control and quality assurance to the production of beer.

They will learn what it takes to work as a lab scientist in conducting tests to ensure correct alcohol content, color, flavor, carbon dioxide, and other variables. In addition, they will apply methods for consistency and reproducibility among batches, cost containment, production sustainability, sanitary practices and worker safety.

Colorado currently ranks fourth in the nation in the number of breweries per capita, and the craft brewing industry has been growing steadily for the last few years. Production in craft breweries grew 17 percent in 2013, Mosher said. He added that breweries that fail often cite lack of quality control as one of the reasons.

"There are many programs out there that focus on graduating students that are well suited to the position of Master Brewer," Mosher said. "But we're taking a different approach to prepare students for work in those brewery laboratories with a strong focus on quality control and assurance.

"This skillset is something that breweries are seeking when they hire new workers," added Mosher, who earned a Ph.D. from Texas Tech University and a Diploma in Brewing from the UK Institute of Brewing & Distilling. He has been a home brewer for more than 20 years and has experience working as a brewer's assistant at a brewpub in Idaho.

The new brewery implementation class being offered next summer will be open to students of any major ages 21 and over. Beginning in 2016, students will also be able to minor in the program and supplement the courses with such classes as chemistry, biology, marketing, graphic design, and hospitality services. A certificate program through UNC's Extended Campus Office will be available beginning in Fall 2015 for anyone interested. For more information on the certificate program, visit http://extended.unco.edu/programs/brewing/lab-science-certificate/index.asp

For more information, visit http://www.unco.edu/nhs/chemistry/brewing.html.

About the Program

The Brewing Laboratory Science Program is one of 13 projects funded through Innovation@UNC. The $1 million, two-year initiative began in 2014 and supports projects proposed by the campus community that focus on identifying and implementing innovative academic programs, delivery methods and student success to offer more students transformative education.

Program Timeline

  • Fall 2015 - Brewery installed. Certificate program begins.
  • Spring 2016 - CHEM 370 Intro to Brewing Science offered.
  • Summer 2016 - CHEM 470 Practical Brewing Science offered.
  • Summer 2016 - CHEM 479 Advanced Brewing Science offered.

Note: The spring course will be face-to-face for UNC students and online for those that prefer to complete the certificate program without a major. A minor (available only to UNC students) will also be offered in 2016.