Thursday, November 14, 2013


I attended the ACS's (American Chemical Society) once a month seminar a couple weeks ago. They have a different topic or presentation at every month's meeting, and this one was about beer brewing! It was a scientific behind the scenes to what really goes down. So the ACS, from Wiki, is "the world's largest chemical society and one of the leading sources of authoritative scientific information." The Central North Carolina Section was represented at the seminar. There were probably 35 people at this one which seemed maybe a little inflated due to inherent science nerd interest in beer. They served awesome refreshments and then took care of some business and then Dr. Tracy Hamilton, who sounds like he's got some pretty sweet beer brewing credentials, like in PhD form, gave us his presentation.

I have some friends that brewed some pretty good stuff and I will tell you they had no idea what was really going on. The process is simple, in fact his first slide about the process had "How to brew beer, add: water, sugar, yeast." My friends, granted it was no easy task, were brewing to spec. It really would take a fundamental understanding of the chemistry to design your own beer.

Beer brewing is a perfect explanation of the connection between chemistry and biology. It was pretty sweet being able to follow a bit of where he was going with the chemistry talk. There was a lot of it. I would have taken notes if I'd known it would get so intense! The three main variables are process, ingredients, and proportions. Beer is, after all, like tea. The steeping is just 80 times more complicated. Chemistry, inorganic and organic, is a requisite tool in the beer crafting process. The meeting was sweet! Learned alot! Scared me from brewing my own beer a little bit! Still good though!

Todd Derek


  1. Ha! I knew this was your piece when I read the title in the sidebar. I'm bummed I missed this talk. Sounded pretty intense.

  2. It seems so easy when you say the ingredients are water, sugar, and yeast but I am sure it is a much more intense and complicated process.

  3. What, the seminar i went to was very dry. wish i had attended this one. But yes Brewing beer is pretty simple once you become familiar with the processes. I worked at busch gardens in williamsburg growing up and we often times got in depth tours and even some seminars on the art of brewing at the Annheuser-busch factory. It was really interesting but i havent given it a try just yet.

  4. I toured the sam adams brewery in boston earlier this summer. I was really surprised when the guy giving us the tour started to go into the chemistry of brewing. Super interesting. I wish i had gone to this seminar!