A university course on fermentation science in a global society with a study abroad flavor

Sensory Session
Casey C Raymond, Department of Chemistry, SUNY Oswego, Oswego, NY, USA
Co-author(s): Jeffery Schneider, Department of Chemistry, SUNY Oswego, Oswego, NY, USA

ABSTRACT: Over the past seven years we have developed and taught a course that explores the interdisciplinary impact of fermentation and distillation science in a global society. The overall goals of this course are for the students to gain an understanding of the scientific principles involved in fermentation and to develop an appreciation of the impact of fermentation on the global society. We discuss how the science of fermentation is connected with history, culture, art, and other facets of a global society and how students develop an understanding of these connections throughout the course. This presentation will address the development of this course as well as student experiences during the course’s study abroad component in Belgium, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, and Scotland. During the course we discuss how water quality impacts beer production and how different styles of beer resulted from the combination of available ingredients and the water quality present. A couple of examples that we discuss are the development of the dry stout style in Dublin and the extra special bitter/English pale ale style in Burton-on-Trent. To get students thinking about using their senses when consuming food and fermented products, we usually have a blind tasting in class. Past examples include: 1) Coke with high fructose corn syrup, Coke with cane sugar, and Diet Coke; and 2) tonic water, club soda, and flavored carbonated water. While we are aboard, we ask students to use their sensory skills to discuss locally produced fermented products and to compare different products. While we are in Belgium, we tour the Rodenbach and Cantillon breweries and then ask students to write about the similarities and differences they observe in production methods and the flavors of the resulting beers. After visiting multiple distilleries in Scotland, we ask students to use their notes from each visit and tasting to write about the similarities and differences between the whiskies. Whatever the venue, we always ask students to write about their experiences with the local culture, which have included food, drink, museum visits, and transportation.

Casey Raymond received a B.S. degree in chemistry from Michigan State University in 1991, a Ph.D. degree in chemistry from Colorado State University in 1996, and a post-doctoral fellowship at Northwestern University. He was an assistant professor at Kent State University prior to his position at the State University of New York, College at Oswego. Casey has worked with Jeffery Schneider to develop new courses at SUNY Oswego related to fermentation science, targeting both science and non-science majors. This is currently leading toward an interdisciplinary minor at the campus after consultation with InBev-AB personnel in Baldwinsville, NY. Both professors have research projects, involving undergraduate students, related to fermentation science.