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Maryville College students brewing beer for college credit

Maryville College’s “Chemistry of Beer” class is an upper-level science course where students get a closer look at the process of brewing beer.
Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 7:28 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Maryville College offers a “Chemistry of Beer” class to students 21 years and older. It’s an upper-level science course where students get a closer look at the process of brewing beer. Associate Professor Nathan Duncan had the idea to teach students the science behind the popular drink.

“For me, beer brewing became a natural extension of chemistry but you know chemistry you get to drink at the end which is even better,” said Duncan.

Students learn about the fermentation process, the history of beer, and flavor profiles.

Students Mackenzie Lamb and David Clark are both doing summer research with Duncan’s help.

“I’m looking at terpene bioconversion in the fermentation process so whenever you add the hops to the beer they maybe change,” said Lamb.

The hands-on, lab experience working with terpenes. Terpenes are the aromatic compounds found in the hops that make the beer taste good but they’re also found in medicine.

“I’m planning on going to medical school, but there is a growing field of looking at terpenes and how they relate to the medical field,” said Clark.

Duncan has brewed two beers for the Hops in The Hills event in Maryville. He says one is an IPA brewed with hops from New Zealand that a fellow professor got him on a study abroad trip. The second is a stout that he is very proud of.

“It was the first beer I brewed on the Maryville College campus as a demonstration. And it is Dan Klingensmith’s favorite beer that we make, so the Dean’s he likes that one the most,” said Clark.

Duncan says it’s not just about the taste of the beer, it’s about the lessons learned.

“It’s not the cookie-cutter, here’s the textbook, here’s the test. You get a hands-on experience on something that unique as beer and something that’s as interesting to learn about,” said Clark.

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