Behind the brew

Claire Fodell

Engineering students at Grand Valley State University passionate about the art and science of brewing beer have created an outlet for their interests with the new student organization Humulus Lupulus: Brewing Science and Technology Club.

Though the club isn’t allowed to brew on campus, members meet bimonthly to have discussions about the science behind brewing beer.

“The club was established to explore the science of brewing and the technology involved both on a fundamental and detailed level,” said Joe Gibson, co-founder and president of Humulus Lupulus.

According to the group’s OrgSync page, the club will discuss a number of topics throughout the semester, including recipe design, how to maintain and sanitize equipment, bottling and kegging, beer styles, home-brewer gardening, hop strains, grain production and yeast culturing.

The name of the organization is unique, but Gibson said it’s perfect for a club about brewing.

“Humulus Lupulus is the scientific name for the plant commonly known as hops,” he said, which is a plant used in the beer brewing process. “Thus, we thought it was appropriate to use as our club name.”

Gibson and another GVSU engineering student, Jesse Millwood, came up with the idea to create the brew club after realizing that they knew how to brew beer, but not the chemistry behind it.

“You could give us a stout and we could taste it and say, ‘Is this a stout?’” Millwood said. “But we didn’t know why it was a stout from a deeper brewing perspective.”

Though Humulus Lupulus is not a beer drinking or beer producing club, members must still be over 21 to join. The group is currently more than 15 members strong, including students and a few faculty members who attended the first meeting.

With the help of GVSU faculty members Todd Carlson and Richard Lord, both from the chemistry department, the club is able to discuss in depth the science that goes into brewing.

“We have been fortunate enough to have Dr. Lord and Dr. Carlson express interest, attend our first meeting and help out a lot with the content of the meetings and future ideas,” Millwood said.

The club is planning to take trips to tour some of the many different breweries in the West Michigan area to learn from practitioners in the field. In addition to the two GVSU faculty members, Gibson said the group also plans to have more experts attend and speak at the weekly meetings.

“This semester, we are hosting John Stewart and Bryan Bastow of Perrin Brewery, who are talking on many subjects including barrel aging, and Doug Dorda from Siciliano’s, who will be talking about sanitation,” Gibson said. “We will also be hosting a speaker to talk on ciders for our last meeting.”

Another goal of the club is to familiarize members with basic concepts of the Cicerone Certification Program. According to the website, the recently created program offers individuals international certification of expertise in beer storage, styles, pairings with food and much more. Members of the club becoming certified will have the ability to successfully compete in brewing competitions and even pursue it on a professional level.

Meetings for the club take place every other Thursday at 7 p.m., alternating between the Allendale Campus and the Pew Campus. The group will meet today in 330 Kennedy Hall of Engineering on the Pew Campus, and in two weeks, it will be in 106 Padnos Hall of Science.

Students interested in learning about the club or the technology behind brewing beer can find more information by searching “brew” on OrgSync.

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