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  • Writer's pictureKelsey Picard

Science Made Beerable - National Science Week 2020

The event was held at Hobart Brewing Company's the Red Shed. Photo by Abby Jacobson

On the 16th August 2020, Science Made Beerable held a National Science Week event all about the science behind beer.

We teamed up with four of the best local craft breweries from across Tasmania, Australia and asked them to put forward a beer from their range that showcases a cool aspect of science in brewing.

Photo by Andrew Wilcox

These four beers were put together in a “Science Week 4-pack” with the help of Hop, Vine & Still. Due to COVID restrictions our event had to include an online element with people being able to order their 4-pack to drink at home while they watched the live-streamed panel discussion. We also had a small exclusive live audience at Hobart Brewing Company's Red Shed in keeping with COVID restrictions at the time.

The 2-hour long event saw science-nerds and beer-nerds alike come together and geek out over fermentation, hop-chemistry, yeast strains and beer colour. Members of the audience sent in their burning brewing questions throughout the night.

We kicked the night off by cracking open OCHO beer’s Happy Place, a hazy mid-strength farm ale.

Stu Grant from OCHO explained that this hazy brew is made with Kviek yeast, a distinctive Norwegian farmhouse strain that can be dried and therefore shared and propagated almost indefinitely. The yeast is also unique in that it can be fermented at much higher temperatures than normal brewing yeasts due to its high thermotolerance.

Next up was Shambles Brewery’s Dances With Hops American style IPA.

This beer features six different hop varieties, so it was the perfect companion for Cornel Ianculovici to explain how beer is a chemical cocktail. Cornel talked us through hop chemistry and how adding hops at different stages of the brewing can greatly affect the aroma and flavour of the beer. We discussed how different hop varieties are bred to chase consumer targets such as aroma and flavour through their chemical make up.

Then we dug our way into Van Dieman Brewing's aptly named Farm Juice.

The beer is a wet hopped farmhouse IPA and is produced from ingredients all grown on brewer Will Tatchell’s farm in Evandale. The beer had a remarkably herbaceous flavour due to the fresh hops added in the brewing process. The yeast added is a uniquely local strain “Everton” that Will cultured from his farm. We learned about how spontaneous fermentation works (and sometimes doesn’t) and how time can be a saviour in the sour beer brewing process.

Last but not least we cracked into the contribution from our host venue with Hobart Brewing Company’s Tascadian Dark Ale.

Brewer Alex Grant gave us the run down on the science of malt and how these sprouted barley grains provide the sugar source for the fermentation. We also learned about how roasting malt can produce complex flavours and rich colours, just like the dark colour of the Tascadian.

We sold out of our available stock, selling a combined total of 134 four-packs for the at-home and live viewers. That’s 536 beers or over 220L of beer consumed! In hindsight this may have been a little too much beer for a school night, and perhaps the only negative feedback we received were due to the headaches the following day – sorry!

With the current pandemic, the local hospitality industry is experiencing both emotional and financial distress and we wanted our event to serve as a platform to highlight craft brewing in Tasmania to a wider audience. For a small state, Tasmania packs a big punch in the craft beer industry. Innovative, unique breweries across the state have a well-known reputation for making high-quality beer in Australia. The craft beer industry has a large, committed (and nerdy in their own right) following who might not normally attend Science Week events. We believe that our event placed National Science Week on the radar for beer connoisseurs, home-brewers and those who are committed to supporting Tasmanian businesses, thus expanding the Science Week audience. Conversely, avid Science Week fans who may have been unaware of the wonderful science that goes into brewing were introduced to the amazing flavours that can be produced in beer through clever chemistry.

We are already well under way with 2021’s event planning so watch this space! We aim to push brewers to exBEERiment a little more next year and we will deliver a bigger and better event.

Massive shoutout to Joe and the team from JRS videography who did a stellar job filming the event and live-streaming it for the at-home viewers. Joe also filmed these beautiful dewy beer shots. Thanks to Inspiring Australia and the Tasmanian National Science Week committee for the funding. Thanks to Hobart Brewing Company for hosting the event in the Red Shed and ensuring that we were COVID compliant. Hop Vine and Still made our lives so much easier, doing all the distribution and orders for us – Cheers Andrew! And lastly thank you to our helpful volunteers Abby, Hans and Dougie.

Please get in touch if you have any feedback, ideas or suggestions, or if you would like to support us!

You can watch the event's live-stream in full here:

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