Beer industry to profit from new brewing science degree

By Chris Mercer

- Last updated on GMT

A new brewing science degree in the UK aims to help beer firms
around the world improve their businesses, from sustainable
production to the perfect pint.

Young hopefuls have been queuing up for a place on the University of Nottingham's new MSc in Brewing Science degree, according to course leader Katherine Smart, also Britain's only female professor in brewing science.

The course, which is open to graduates and current brewery employees, should help brewers to better improve and adapt their businesses.

It will include a range of modules such as the effects of climate change on brewing, designing breweries and harnessing the natural properties of yeast during fermentation.

Professor Smart said students would also look at work being done to understand and monitor the brewing process. It is crucial to examine the science underpinning new knowledge in the sector, she said, adding that "for some things, we know they work but we don't always know why they work"​.

International brewer SABMiller is has put up a £167,000 grant to sponsor professor Smart's appointment at the head of the MSc course.

"We are always looking at ways of enhancing techniques and technologies to enhance our product quality while, as part of our sustainable development approach, improving the environment in which we operate,"​ said Graham Mackay, SAB chief executive.

Concerns have grown in the last year over a shortage of food science recruits in Britain.

Around a quarter of food science positions were sitting empty across the country this January, according to government agency Improve, responsible for skills training in the food and drink industry.

Improve recently launched a new manufacturing diploma aimed at 14-19-year-olds, as part of efforts to combat the problem.

Smart said brewing science sector was holding up well, however. She described the sector as "buoyant"​ and added there were plenty of applicants for Nottingham.

The University already has a very well-respected brewing science department, which covers a range of areas including improving flavour and colour in beer to reducing alcohol content.

Smart said she was particularly interested in expanding research on how spent grains from brewing could be used to produce bioethanol fuel, a renewable energy source.

British authorities this January approved plans to build the country's first bioethanol production plant. Green Spirit Fuels, the firm behind the proposal, aims to have the factory ready next year.

"In Brazil 30 per cent of fuel for cars is already from ethanol, and if just five per cent of the fuel in petrol tanks of cars in the UK was composed of bioethanol, it would be the equivalent of taking a million cars off the road network in terms of reduced pollution,"​ Smart said.

Still, critics have questioned bioethanol's viability as a large-scale, alternative energy source.

Related topics Markets Beer, Wine, Spirits, Cider

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