Beer Chemistry CoastersBeer Chemistry Coasters by Sripriya Prasad. Click photo for link to purchase.

While Mike and I are avid homebrewers who are slowly but surely honing a depth of knowledge in the process of brewing being able to create beer doesn’t necessarily imply that one truly knows how beer is made. From a process level there is a world of expertise and knowledge to be learned to consider oneself an expert brewing. But beyond the process there is a deeper knowledge in the microbiological and chemical levels that yields insights into the why the process works. It is the difference between a chef who can create amazing dishes from an lifetime of experience in crafting taste combinations and a food scientist who can explain why preparing eggs in a certain way enhances the flavor at a microscopic level.

Those interested in the science of brewing should take note. The University of Oklahoma is offering a free online course on the Chemistry of Beer. While the course is not offered for college credit for anyone not a University of Oklahoma student it is a completely free and open course to anyone with an internet connection.

Here is the course description:

This course covers the process of brewing from grain to final bottle product and the chemical and biochemical process involved in each step. Students will be required to utilize previous knowledge in General and Organic chemistry to understand: analytical techniques in brewing, chemistry of the ingredients and products, and the molecules involved in the biochemical processes. During the course, students will also learn the similarities and differences between beer styles, home and commercial brewing processes, and analytical techniques. There is a great deal of Biochemistry and Organic Chemistry involved in the malting, mashing and fermentation process and understanding the chemistry behind the flavor, aroma, and color of beer. Students should have a basic knowledge of general and organic chemistry.

While I never thought I would again elect to participate in an academic pursuit requiring homework I have already signed up for the opportunity to get a deeper and more intimate look into the world of brewing from a chemistry perspective.

The course begins on January 13, 2014 and is being taught by Mark Morvant, PhD. It is a course that is being taught entirely online and lasts for four months. It isn’t an absurd commitment in time or previous knowledge but a basic understanding of both chemistry and organic chemistry might be challenging to those without a strong science background.

Whether you join me in this scientific and academic endeavor as a classmate or not I’m sure the merits of taking the class will seep into the podcast and blog as my chemical understanding of steeping grains, fermentation, and carbonation grows in leaps and bounds.

Sign up now!