Craft beer enthusiasts at Ferris have something to look forward to this year as the industrial chemistry program now offers fermentation science as a degree concentration.
Students in this program will take classes along with industrial chemistry major courses such as fermentation chemistry, fermentation analysis, beverage management and principles of food science. Ferris currently offers industrial chemistry as an associate degree, but chemistry professor Mark Thomson is in the process of expanding the program to a bachelor degree.
“I’m really excited about the fermentation science program because it builds on a long history that Ferris has had in industrial chemistry,” said Thomson, who has brewed beer at home for more than 30 years. “We’ve been doing industrial chemistry at the associate’s level for more than 60 years.”
Ferris environmental biology junior Symon Cronk recently conducted research with Thomson. They measured pH in every stage of the brewing process and added specific amounts of calcium carbonate to batches.
“To learn this stuff through a chemistry perspective was pretty neat,” Cronk said.
Students not in the fermentation science program who are interested in the science behind fermentation in wine, cheese and bread are not left without the opportunity learn. For years, Dr. Michael Ryan has organized a biology class in Italy each summer, in which students witness the production of food and drink.
“The goal of the course is to provide some scientific background so that students understand such things as making wine and cheese,” Ryan said.
This class also examines the anatomy and physiology of taste and smell. This class fulfills a scientific understanding credit. More information on Ryan’s study abroad can be found at ferris.edu/international/studyabroad.
Thomson is also involved in the Big Rapids Area Master Mashers (BAMM), a beer-making club that regularly meets at Cranker’s Brewery to discuss and share their homebrewed beer. BAMM is encouraging student brewers and industrial chemistry students to join. BAMM can be found on Facebook.