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Raise a glass: Celebration for UW student-designed beer set for May 1

11148829_895593087170687_8076015867204162982_oAt the end of the academic year, it’s not unusual for UW-Madison students to present the results of their research efforts at symposia and other forums. One group of students, however, is gearing up to share the fruits of their labors in a unique way: With a celebration at the Memorial Union Terrace in honor of the beer they helped produce.

The event, set for Friday, May 1 from 3:00 – 5:00 p.m., is the first opportunity for terrace patrons to purchase Inaugural Red, a student-designed beer developed through a partnership between the UW-Madison Department of Food Science and the Wisconsin Brewing Company (WBC). Following the celebration, the beer will be on tap at the terrace for the rest of the summer—and possibly beyond. WBC also plans to bottle the beer for local distribution.

“I don’t think it’s actually quite hit me yet that our beer is going to be at the Memorial Union and throughout Wisconsin,” says Andrew Lefeber, who developed the beer recipe along with fellow students Sean Hinds and Elizabeth Wolff. “I think it’s a little surreal for all of us.”

The trio came up with the recipe during a lab course offered through the Department of Food Science’s Fermented Foods and Beverages Program. Their formula took top prize above five other recipes during a competition held in early March that was judged by beer industry experts, including WBC brewmaster Kirby Nelson. From there, the winning team, along with the rest of the class, worked side by side with WBC staff to produce the beer in the company’s brewing facilities, giving them hands-on experience in a commercial-scale brewery.

“Students got a chance to go through [the] fermentation [process], but also what it’s like to take a product from idea to market, which is not a simple task,” says Hans Zoerb, a lecturer in the food science department, who was involved in the project.

It’s an exciting partnership for the UW, one that may help raise the profile of the Fermented Foods and Beverages Program.

“I’m confident that the product is going to be really good and that’s going to reflect on our program,” says program leader Jim Steele, a professor of food science.

Students involved in the course will be on hand at the celebration event on May 1 to mark their remarkable accomplishment.

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