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CMU brews state's 1st beer making certificate program

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

Some have wondered why more beer is needed at Central Michigan University.

But organizers of the state's first higher education certificate in beer brewing say it goes far beyond consumption.

"In every glass of beer there is an amazing amount of biology, chemistry, biochemistry and engineering," said Cordell DeMattei, CMU's director of fermentation science. "There is a lot of science and technology in every glass."

Starting next fall, the program will combine the science of fermentation with a hands-on experience in modern brewery production processes.

It would be the sixth such program in the nation, arriving as Michigan's craft beer industry is exploding, ranking as the fifth-largest in the nation.

About 24 students would be in the first class and would include those seeking a degree at CMU and those who are not. The class would involve lectures and hands-on experiences at either Hunter's Ale House or Mountain Town Brewing Company — two craft breweries in Mount Pleasant.

Brewing involves malting, mashing, boiling, fermentation, aging, finishing and packaging. Science is especially involved to produce the same batch of beer again and again when agricultural products vary year to year.

"The consistency is when there can be trouble," DeMattei said. "You need to understand the science for consistency and quality."

Jared Edison, who lives in Greenville in Montcalm County, has worked in a brewery and wants to work in commercial brewing, possibly in management, so he hopes to land in the first class.

"This being the first certification program, I am sure it will give me a leg up," said Edison, 25.

Kim Kowalski, head brewer Mountain Town Brewing Company, learned about the art of brewing by starting at home. He then worked at a home brew supply store before eventually moving to a brewery.

It's great that Michigan now has a more formalized instruction for those who share his passion, he said, so they have the science behind them as they work to brew the thousands of beers available.

"This shows people care more about what they are consuming and they want more variety and they want something new," Kowalski said. "This could help spawn the opening of more breweries around the state, around the country, possibly around the world."