By Jeff Todd
DENVER (CBS4) – Students in Dr. Ethan Tsai’s Brewing Quality Analysis class are busy at work in their lab getting beers ready to submit to the U.S. Open College Beer Championship.
“It definitely has a fun aspect of being in competition, but we get feedback. And that’s one of the most valuable things you can get, honest feedback,” said Connor Cottrill. “It also gives us an opportunity to make a name for ourselves for our school and looking forward to future employment opportunities.”
Metropolitan State University is expecting to have 15 graduates with degrees in brewing next month – the largest class since launching a program focused on teaching students all aspects of the brewing industry.
“It covered the business, the science, the actual hands on brewing marketing managing, beverage promotion. It covered all the bases,” Cottrill said.
The brewing program has grown to 165 students, and many are working on a second career.
“My goal is to open up my own brew pub someday. I didn’t want to be that brewery that opened with poor beer. I wanted to get an education first,” said Cottrill.
Students were broken into teams and have brewed several beers, but it will still be a few weeks before the four beers are picked to be entered into the U.S. Open College Beer Championship.
Cottrill’s team brewed a dark wheat beer.
“Very chocolatey and we kind forced aged it with some oak spirals and some bourbon,” he said. “We also brewed a Milky Way stout and it has actually one Milky Way in the mash, ceremonially. Very sweet you get a lot of caramel, lot of lactose, heavy body.”
The competition has become a small aspect of rigorous lab work for brewers.
“We have to figure out what went wrong with this beer, and it’s very applicable to real life scenarios. You have a beer you taste something funny, how do I figure out what’s wrong with it? How do I prevent it from happening again in the future or how do I fix it before getting to the client,” Cottrill said. “I do love experimenting with different styles but I would say that my favorite thing to brew is sour beer.”
Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.