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Let’s chat about beer, the chemistry of brewing

The Student Honors Council (SHC) hosts chemistry professor Will Deutschman who explained how beer is made and what processes enhance taste in Nunemaker Place on Oct. 15. Students sampled various types of barley, smelled a variety of hops and talked about how each differed using their senses. (Photo by Seaira Moller)

Beer. To most, this is a drink after a long day of work. But to some, it is an artform of perfecting a taste with four simple ingredients.

“When you start looking at things like food science and food products, we can’t replace the human being, being able to create and innovate,” said chemistry Professor Will Deutschman.  

On Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in Nunemaker Place, Deutschman educated students on how beer is made and where the taste comes from. The event “Beer with Will Deutschman” was hosted by the Student Honors Council (SHC).

Beer is made from four primary ingredients including barley, hops, yeast and water. In the in the simplest terms, barley is the sugar component and hops is the flavorant in beer, according to Deutschman. To convert the starch in barley to sugar, individuals will germinate the seeds by adding water and mimic the spring season by heating, according to Deutschman.  

“Depending on how you mix [the ingredients] up, you can get lots of different varieties [of beer],” Deutschman said.

Deutschman brought samples of barley for students to decipher the distinct tastes and jars of hops to smell the various aromas. The barley samples had characteristics from biscuit to dark coffee based on how long it was heated. Hops gave off aromas from citrus to tropical fruit.

“All the different kinds of malt, how they made them and how different they tasted was pretty interesting,” said William Harvey, a first-year double major in economics and philosophy.  

Other students who attended the event said they also enjoyed learning about the chemistry behind brewing and using their senses to examine the different ingredients.

“I have never actually been in a room hearing people saying, ‘it’s citrusy and there is woody notes’ and not gone ‘this is BS’ but I actually got the difference and saw how it applied to beer,” undeclared first-year Anthony Giorgio said.


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