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Lincoln Uni’s best brew goes to town

Lincoln Uni’s best brew goes to town

A growing taste for craft beer and collaboration between Lincoln University and Thief Brewing Limited will see a student beer served on tap soon in a central city craft beer bar.

Students of the Principles of Malting and Brewing course at Lincoln University work in groups to produce a beer from start to finish. “This year’s class of 35 students all made different styles of beer and tasted them at the end the course,” says course tutor Leo Vanhanen. “There were two that were judged the best by all the students. Thief Brewing will make a larger sized brew of one of these and have it on tap at The Institution bar in New Regent Street.”

Leo’s long held vision of teaching Food Science students about food and beer matching came to life when Steve Gebbie and his son Ryan of Thief Brewing approached the University about setting up a brewery on campus for education and commercial brewing. A first step in this developing relationship has been working with Leo to setup and deliver the practical side of the Principles of Malting and Brewing paper. The first course took place in 2013 with 16 students, using equipment supplied by Thief Brewing. The increasing popularity of the course soon saw Lincoln University buying its own equipment.

The labs involve the whole grain brewing process from milling the grain, the mash process and boiling, staged addition of hops, yeast preparation kegging and bottling. Measurements are taken throughout to reinforce the theory behind each process. The beers made by students don’t contain any sugar and make use of mostly local ingredients, including malt from Leeston-based supplier Gladfields, and hops grown in Nelson.

“Students get to see the whole process, from hands-on craft beer making, fermenting and bottling the beer, to understanding the science behind a brew and then seeing that same beer being commercially made and available to the public to try,” says Leo. Leo says the course is popular with viticulture students who are very good at identifying flavours.

“Brewing is an excellent example of knowledge and know-how from multiple science disciplines coming together to produce an excellent age old product that is looking to the future. We hope to continue developing an education–business type relationship with Thief Brewing and The Institution bar into the future.”

Lincoln University is still the only tertiary institution to offer a brewing paper to students, despite unprecedented interest in the craft. Leo, a former winemaker and experienced home beer brewer, handles the practical side, while the theory is taught by Professor Charles Brennan, who has a background in malting.

While craft beer is comparatively expensive and currently only makes up about five percent of the market, it is a steadily expanding product category. Leo says craft beer is all about appreciation. “You’re paying for time, patience and skill. It’s not about drinking as much as you can.”

The Lincoln University Craft Beer Appreciation Club would be agree with that. Formed by students Matthew Corbett and Zac Hayton who completed the brewing paper, they have 197 Facebook members and host well attended local tastings. Zac says they started the club last year as a way of expanding palates and catering to the large international student base at Lincoln who are after something more unusual.

“The club, with funding from the Lincoln University Students’ Association, look to run affordable tastings of 10-12 beers per event. The tasting are often themed, comparing and contrasting styles from New Zealand and further internationally. At the last tasting we explored hop use in beer, with beers with one dominating hop. The hops were from New Zealand, as well as American, British and even a Japanese grown hop, which was unique to say the least.”

Zac says that with the growing number of Christchurch breweries and the ongoing Malting and Brewing paper, the options for the club are expanding and looking bright for the future. “We would like to see it as an integral part of the Lincoln University experience.”

The student craft beer will be on sale from 24 September at The Institution.


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