BrewVM

It’s no secret UVMers like to drink.However, more UVM students are brewing their own beer and learning the chemistry behind Natty Light and the cell biology of Magic Hat’s Number Nine.Leading the way in this elevated understanding of beer is Dr. Todd Pritchard, a lecturer in the Nutrition and Food Sciences Program and teacher of What’s Brewing in Food Science.In his course, “Dr. Todd” aims to teach his students about the science behind brewing beer.”The first day, I ask my students, ‘What do you think about when you see water?’ Then I pull out a Natty Light.” Pritchard said that he does this to emphasize the difference between a beer like Natural Light versus a homebrew.Natty Light is just like water and tastes like crap, but there is flavor, character and tradition behind homebrews, he said.”Homebrews and microbrews are about community,” Pritchard said. “With Natty Light, you get just drunk and stupid.”However, in class, Dr. Todd does not brew beer with students.”Its theory-based,” Pritchard said. “We talk about the history and process of brewing. We look at ingredients. We talk about the chemistry, biology, cell biology and sometimes the physics of brewing.”Pritchard said he tries to apply these concepts to different majors too, like business.”Hopefully we see how that cross-pollinates,” he said.His students seem to enjoy his intro to brewing class as well.”It was pretty well-taught. After I took the class I continued brewing until I went abroad in the spring,” Ben Shupe, a senior chemistry major and home-brewer, said.While the instruction may be informative, students agree that the process of making beer is no simple task.”[Brewing is] not easy, but I’m doing well because I’ve been studying,” senior and civil engineering major Colin Hutchens, who also brews beer at home, said. Brewing takes dedication to get each part of the process correct.”The hardest part is sanitation,” Shupe said. “Brewing itself is fairly easy… Anything that touches beer must be kept clean. Any impurities can alter the taste of beer.””You can make alcohol pretty easily, but making good alcohol is hard,” Pritchard said. With such a knack for brewing and a taste for the finest concoctions, Pritchard said his favorite beers are the ones he makes himself.Pritchard’s brewing class is now one of the most popular Nutrition and Food Science courses at the University.”The class began five years ago,” Pritchard said. “It has really taken off. This will be the first year where I’m teaching both semesters.”Vermont Homebrew Supply in Winooski has all the supplies for aspiring home-brewers, Shupe said. They sell basic and advanced home-brewing kits, in addition to the necessary ingredients and equipment, including clean bottles.Even parents are willing to contribute to this sort of habit.”I know of parents who will buy supplies for their kids who are trying to learn how to brew beer,” Pritchard said. “They don’t brew to get shitfaced, they brew to enjoy their beer.”NFS095 will be offered again this upcoming spring semester and is open for 175 eager students who want to learn the basics of brewing.