Have you ever wondered how grape juice becomes 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 where sugar breaks down into carbon dioxide and alcohol using a single cell microorganism - yeast. Just barley, water, and hops together become beer by introducing yeast into it. That’s something you maybe unaware of? So fermentation changes food composition on many levels and offers us various delicious drinks and food items.
While there are a host of processed foods that come under the fermented science category, it mainly used to produce 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 food safety and quality. 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 in partnership with the food and beverage fermentation industry. It usually includes Brewing Science, Brewing Analysis, Wine Production Principles, Wine Production, Analysis, Sensory Evaluation, Fermentation Microbiology, and Topics in Fermentation.
Very few countries and universities offer Fermenting Science courses, 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 offered here. The duration of the program could be 12 weeks to some years, as per 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 completing 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. Today, she is 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:
University of California-Davis, USA
The University of California-Davis 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 scholarship eligibility.
Southern Illinois University, USA
Founded in 1869, Southern Illinois University is in Carbondale, Illinois. SIU has one of the best Fermentation programs in the world. The program will provide you a deep understanding of this ancient practice. The program prepares you for career fields like production and quality control for fermented foods like bread, cheese, sauerkraut, and alcoholic beverages.
SIU provides a Bachelor of Science in Fermentation Science which is a 4-year degree program. This program is also recognized by the “Master Brewers Association of the Americas.” The program also provides a hands-on experience that will help your career make a Fermentation industry career.
Oregon State University, USA
Oregon State University has the best lab to learn to brew and has its 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.
Central Washington University, USA
Founded in 1891, the Central Washington University is in Ellensburg, Washington. Its 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.
Appalachian State University
Founded in 1899, Appalachian State University is in Boone, North Carolina. Besides giving students a solid foundational knowledge in chemistry and biology, the degree program also emphasizes business, marketing, and entrepreneurial principles.
The university offers scholarships based on merit.
Metropolitan State University (Denver)
Founded in 1965, Metropolitan State University is in Denver, Colorado. The degree program gives students a hands-on experience at the on-campus Brewing Research Lab. The program teaches 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.