Saint Mary's College offers beer-making class

Lyanne Melendez Image
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Saint Mary's College offers craft beer-making class
Saint Mary's College in Moraga is offering students an intensive class in the art and science of beer.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- People often joke college students major in beer, but that may be closer to reality now.

Craft beer making continues to grow in California, offering job opportunities for those who want to get into that field. Colleges are taking note of this and now some are offering minors in beer making.

This month, St. Mary's College in Moraga is offering an intensive class in the art and science of beer.

Interested in making beer? Come west young man or young woman.

"I love to know how things work and stuff so knowing why a porter is so dark or why a lager is so light and how sugar and stuff plays into it, I think it's fascinating and I love it," Jessica Porter said.

According to the Brewers Association, in 2013 there were 381 craft breweries in California. The state ranks first in the number of barrels of craft beer produced every year in the United States.

Those who make craft beer are small and independent breweries like Linden Street Brewery in Oakland. "For us it's all about the small quantities and really just having a handle on what we're producing," Andrew Ritter said.

It all begins with barley. "We have hot water coming over the top," Kel Owen said. The grain is slowly converted into sugar. "And we're kind of pushing that water out over into here collecting in this vessel," he added.

Owen eventually add hops to make it bitter and the end result will be a delightful imperial stout. "You're going to get coffee, you're going to get molasses," he said.

This month 20 students from Saint Mary's College are learning about the science behind making beer.

All of the students are science majors. "We get to go into the biology, so how yeast fermentation and parts and various esters and flavors and chemical compounds in the beer and how to look for them," Jim Pesavento said.

The sale of craft beer has also increased. In 2013, it went up by more than 17 percent while overall beer and the imported kind have gone down. "With them popping up, there is going to be a need to staff people and hire people that are knowledgeable in the process and beer in general," Pesavento said.

The students got to taste some of the beer recently made at Linden Street Brewery in Oakland. "Best field trip ever, that's for sure," one student said.