Studying beer for college credit

It may sound like a degree many college students are already well-qualified to hold: a minor in beer. But beginning this fall , student at Purdue University will be able to officially earn a minor in fermentation, or beer-making.

The Indiana school is teaming with local breweries to promote the new courses, which are part of its food-science program.

“Right now it’s a minor, and as it get more popular and we grow the interest, turn that into a major,” Brian Farkas, who heads the food-science program at Purdue told WLFI.

That means teaching students about everything from hops and malts to beer analysis and chemistry over the 18 credit hours required to qualify for the minor.

“We really want to take the time to teach the student up front the importance of not just the whole fermentation process, but all the cleaning that’s involved,” Jean Jensen, a chemist at Purdue who specializes in brewing, said in an interview.

Schools around the U.S. offer degrees in fermentation science, and some pair their workshops on beer manufacturing with classes in business and operations management. 

But the skills can translate to jobs beyond beer and wine production. For example, a degree in fermentation science can support roles in food and beverage processing, waste and water treatment, and even applied chemistry.

Purdue University hopes such expertise will serve students well in the working world.

“When a student graduates, they’ll get a job,” Farkas said.

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