Olomouc university sets up own brewery – for experiments and “teambuilding”

Olomouc’s Palacký University is building a micro-brewery for its students. The new facility will be used to teach various aspects of beer, ranging from its earliest known recipes to its effects on the human body. A special course will be set up for students interested in the chemistry of beer. The lecturer in charge says that some of the brew will also be used for “teambuilding”.

Illustrative photo: Matěj Skalický,  Czech Radio

The brewery is currently located in one of the offices of Palacký University’s Department of Analytical Chemistry. Administering to the six plastic jars that are lying around in the room is one of the department’s employees, Dr Lukáš Kučera.

“For now, we have the kind of technology that is used by domestic brewers, so we don’t need any big barrels for the fermentation process. Simple plastic or non-corrosive 30 litre vessels are enough.”

The brewery is still a relatively new addition to the university’s facilities, but experiments are already underway, he says.

“As we speak, five of these vessels are fermenting the oldest known Czech beer. We found it on our territory about a year ago. It is a malted herbal beer, whose bitterness is mainly down to the high volume of herbs inside. Each of these vessels has a different ratio of herbs.

“In the other vessel there is a New England IPA that I am trying to brew. It will be used for teambuilding with students [laughs].”

The micro-brewery will serve a variety of purposes, he says, ranging from helping archaeologists determine the compositions of ancient brews and the confirmation of old recipes for linguists, to contemporary medical practitioners interested in the effects that beer has on the human body.

Illustrative photo: Matěj Skalický,  Czech Radio

“One part of the Medical Faculty has asked us if they could use the facility to study the effect of beer particles on the microbiota in the gut. Then there is also the Cardiology Department, which wants to study the effect that beer has on lowering or raising blood pressure and all of the processes that are associated with that.”

The brewery makes it possible to study every individual chemical component from the start of the brewing process to its end, says Dr Kučera, and could therefore also help scientists in determining how best to protect foodstuffs from rot. Brew masters may also benefit from the facility, as the team in charge says that it will also be testing modern beer making methods.

Faculty of Philosophy | Photo: Olomouc’s Palacký University

The university plans to move the brewery into the cellar of its Faculty of Philosophy in the next few months. The conditions there are ideal for storing the vessels of beer, according to the university.

The school is planning to integrate the brewery into the curriculum during the summer semester, through a special Chemistry of Beer course that will be open to all students. The university believes that the presence of the brewery will also make other classes more interesting, because it will be possible to combine them with practical sessions in the beer lab.

Authors: Thomas McEnchroe , Barbora Taševská
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