The Calgary Journal
The Calgary Journal

The science behind making beer, and how you can learn

BrewerysciencethumnnailThe local craft beer market is booming, which is causing many to be bitten by the home beer brewering bug. But how exactly does one go about making their own brewski at home?

TELUS Spark has the answer with its adult night event on Oct. 9 titled Makers Night Out: Brewing Beer. The event will walk participants through the steps on how to make their own beer – and yes, samples will be provided.

Todd Rederburg, a public programmer for TELUS Spark, says participants will learn the steps to home brewing and will end the night with not a complete beer but a wort, the substance before beer.

"The wort has to ferment before you can call it beer. We'll get people to come back at the point where it is beer and we'll bottle it and they'll get to take home their bottle of beer," Rederburg says.

There will be an expert to guide participants along the way but Rederburg maintains that it won't be a walk in the park.

"Typically our visitors will be doing a lot of the hands on stuff, our expert is there to provide guidance but he isn't there to do it for people."

But learning the craft of beer brewing cannot be mastered in just a few hours.

Calgarian Dan Bronson has been practising his fermenting talent for two years and says patience is a pivotal virtue when it comes to home brewing."When folks say I'm not sure if I can make a beer I say people have been brewing beer for over 10,000 years, so get out there and give it a try, what's the worst that can happen?"

-Jordan Ramey, Olds College professor in Brewmaster & Brewery Operation Management program.

"When I brew, I'm generally trying something new, often with mixed success," Bronson says. "I tried a garam masala spiced beer for example, it ended up tasting like teriyaki for some reason and was eventually poured down the drain."

"It's all about laughing off failures and enjoying your successes, like any hobby or skill," he says.

Bronson says he is always searching for new information and online forums on brewing beer to better his understanding, but there is a way to obtain an education in the classroom for the more hands on learners.

Olds College offers a brewmaster diploma, a two-year course that takes students through brewing beer as well as the marketing skills to become a world-class brew master.

Professor Jordan Ramey, who teaches multiple courses in the Brewmaster & Brewery Operations Management program, maintains that anyone can brew beer as long as there is an understanding of the scientific principles involved.

"I always tell people anyone can brew beer, really the reason folks come to a school like ours is because everyone can brew beer, but it takes a lifetime of training to brew amazing beer consistently over time," Ramey says.

"When folks say I'm not sure if I can make a beer I say people have been brewing beer for over 10,000 years, so get out there and give it a try, what's the worst that can happen?"

Cover-1 copyLisa Drapaka (left) and Dave Holowaty test the sugar levels in a batch of beer at Olds College.  Both are students in the institution's Brewmaster & Brewery Operations Management program

Photo by Kassidy Christensen
"Beer is a safer form of beverage than water was traditionally so it's really tough to mess up a batch of beer and you're going to have fun doing it so get out there and try it," he adds.

One doesn't need to be a scientist to create beer, just an understanding of basic knowledge and ability to follow instructions.

"Making beer is a fun thing to do and it's also something where the scientific foundation really needs to be there to really create a business out of it and to reproduce something of high quality," Ramey says.

Rederburg agrees and maintains that the adult only event won't be a challenging science lab but rather a night to make friends and create your own beer.

"It's a lot of fun, there's a lot of sampling different parts along the way because what does beer taste like before it has alcohol in it?" Rederburg asks.

"How does the process of beer making make different smells and tastes? We like to open up that process, open it up for experimentation and make it a fun time as well."

For more information on the TELUS Spark event, visit sparkscience.ca.

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