ACC to offer new degree in Fermentation Sciences

ACC to offer new degree in Fermentation Sciences

Geraldine Smith, Arapahoe Pinnacle Reporter

Colorado has become one of the leading states in the nation for beer production, just behind California, Oregon and Texas.  With a growing number of breweries, the area encompassing Ft. Collins, Boulder and Denver, is now often referred to as the “Napa Valley of Beer.” As of August of 2015, Channel Nine news reported that the Beer Guild of Colorado found this state to be home to more than 300 breweries with more seeking licenses all the time.

As always, Arapahoe Community College is responding to the needs of the business community with the new A.S. Fermentation Science Degree with Designation.  Jessica Blatecky, a biology teacher at ACC, is spearheading the degree program that will begin in the Fall of 2016 with the first fermentation class, FER 101 Craft Beer Brewing, followed by FER 203, Fermented Food Sciences in the Fall of 2017.

The need for employees with education in Fermentation Sciences is an increasing concern for breweries, and as Batkecky noted, “Brewers need consistency in their product but many of their employees do not have the science foundation. Breweries often have to conduct their own training to fill this knowledge gap.”  Completing this degree will prepare the graduate to go directly into the workforce and/or transfer to Colorado State University to finish a B.S. in Fermentation Sciences and Technology.

For those prospective students who are concerned about having the background to begin such a program, Blatecky points out that even though the industry is science intensive, there are no science prerequisites to take the Craft Brewing Class.  However, students wishing to pursue a degree in Fermentation Sciences will be required to take biology, microbiology, physics and a microbiology course, along with other basic classes to graduate with the degree.

As would be expected, students must be 21 to take the beer class, because of necessary tasting that is required. Since no alcohol is allowed on campus, any alcohol consumption with take place at Breckenridge Brewery, during  the course’s hands-on instruction. The Brewery is partnering with ACC to give students in the fermentation program, hands-on experience, along with opportunities to taste the beer and to evaluate it during the various stages of production. As the program grows, Blatecky would like to eventually have the ability to ferment small batches of beer on campus in conjunction with the Craft Beer course.  The offerings of the program will evolve with interest and enrollment, and the possibility of a fermentation course on wine making at ACC exists somewhere in the future of the program.

Beyond the well documented pursuit of education in the fermentation of alcohol, is fermentation food sciences.  The ACC degree will also offer a fermentation food sciences component that explores the metabolic process of using yeast and bacteria to convert sugars to gases or alcohol.  Most everyone knows there is the fermentation process in the production of beer, wine and liquors, but the taste of many everyday foods is also the result of fermentation.  The more obvious food products are yogurt, cheese and vinegar, but more surprising are chocolate (long live fermentation), salami, sauerkraut and the now the ubiquitous Kombucha. Fermentation adds depth to the taste of certain foods and it is easy to confirm by comparing cabbage and sauerkraut, milk and cheese or grape juice and wine.

The employment outlook for students studying the Fermentation Sciences is positive in Colorado, with the state having more than 300 active breweries and more applying for licenses all the time.  As the industry becomes more competitive, a background in the science of fermentation will be a definite asset when seeking employment in the brewing industry.

For more information, contact: [email protected]. 303.797.5896