Have you ever wondered how grape juice is made into wine? Or how plain milk is made into cheese? Fermentation is the keyword here and there is a science to it.

Fermentation science uses a natural chemical process whereby sugar is broken down into carbon dioxide and alcohol by using a single cell microorganism - yeast. Just barley, water and hops together becomes beer by introducing yeast into it. That’s something you surely were unaware of? So fermentation changes the composition of food on many levels and offers us a variety of delicious drinks and food items.

While there are a host of processed foods that come under the fermented science category, it is mainly used in the production of beer, wine and spirits. There are specialized courses to learn Fermentation Science, which is offered under the Food Science degree. In a Fermentation Science program, students learn about the chemistry, biochemistry, and microbiology of fermentation of food and beverages and ways to ensure safety and quality of food. Besides such programs teach ways to develop new food items using safer and energy-efficient processes. Since it is all about the production of edible products, this program is usually offered in partnership with the food and beverage fermentation industry. It usually includes Brewing Science, Brewing Analysis, Wine Production Principles, Wine Production, Analysis, and Sensory Evaluation, Fermentation Microbiology and Topics in Fermentation.

There are very few countries and universities that offer courses in Fermenting Science and especially in brewing, as it is a specialized and niche study program. There is no specific prerequisite to apply for the program. Certificate and graduate programs are often offered within the same school and the duration of the program may vary from 12 weeks to a couple of years depending on the nature of the course.

Career opportunities for fermenting science graduates are:

  • Brewing production (Beer making)
  • Wine production
  • Distillation Technologies
  • Food & Beverage processing 
  • Applied Biotechnology
  • Bio-manufacturing / Biopharmaceuticals

After completion of the program, students usually intern with breweries, wineries, creameries (butter & cheese making factories), to gain work experience.

The most notable and successful fermenting science practitioner in India is Ms. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw. After completing a brewmaster’s course from an Australian university, she first worked as a brewmaster and is today a billionaire entrepreneur - chairperson and managing director of Biocon Limited, a Bengaluru based Biotechnology Company.

Some of the best beer and brewing schools in the world offering undergraduate programs in Food Science are:

 1. University of California-Davis, USA

This is perhaps the best place to get a degree in fermentation science. They’ve been offering undergrad programs since 1958 and created technical training programs for brewers through the UC Davis Extension in 1991.

While all undergraduate scholarships are merit-based, there may be other criteria that may influence eligibility for a scholarship.

2. Oregon State University, USA

It has the best lab to learn brewing and also has its own state-of-the-art brewhouse and malt house. Besides offering a graduate program, the university also offers short-term courses.

Scholarships are given based on a combination of academic merit and financial need.

3. Central Washington University, USA

The program offers a specialization in foods and nutrition and dietetics rather than focusing on brewing.

The university offers scholarships and financial aid to new students too.

4. Appalachian State University, North Carolina, USA

 Besides giving students a strong foundational knowledge in chemistry and biology, the degree program also lays emphasis on business, marketing and entrepreneurial principles.

The university offers scholarships based on merit.

5. Metropolitan State University of Denver

The degree program gives students a hands-on experience at the on-campus Brewing Research Lab. They are taught Craft Brewing where small groups of students brew up to 10 gallons of craft beer

Scholarships range from institutional scholarships provided by the university to external or private scholarships.

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