Buds in suds
MSU Denver beer program’s Scott Kerkmans details how industry partnerships are a key ingredient in brewing success.
Beer and collaboration go together like pretzels and … more beer.
And when students study in Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Brewing Industry Program, they tap into a network of collaborative partnerships that set them up for competitive internships and provide insight into a historic past – such as the resurrection of Hi-En Brau, a Swiss-style dunkel available as a limited release in the Tivoli taproom.
So in advance of Saturday’s Collaboration Fest, where MSU Denver students and faculty will join forces with campus neighbor Strange Craft Brewing to pour a new nitro offering, we caught up with Scott Kerkmans, faculty member and director of the University’s beer program.
How do industry partnerships contribute to studying beer at MSU Denver?
In general, the support from everyone in the beer industry is outstanding. From raw-material suppliers like Ball for canning to MicroStar Logistics, which just donated a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) machine to measure the bacterial contaminants in beer, students at MSU Denver get an experience no other school can offer.
We’re really excited to offer them the ability to learn on high-end equipment and continue growing the program. Phase one of our beer-industry labs is now complete – our Quality Analysis & Quality Control and our Production Lab opened in early January in the old Sigi’s pool hall. And phase two will include a microbiology/fermentation lab, a packaging lab and a draft-service lab.
We’ve also made strong connections to brewers in the area. Several students are already employed by them, but we have so many that allow us to come in and brew on their systems – that allows people to see exactly how the industry makes beer.
Speaking of, can you tell me about working with Strange Craft Brewing?
They’ve been a great partner. Tim (Myers, owner of Strange Craft) helped develop our curriculum around production – and the fact that it’s within walking distance to campus is a bonus too.
When we had the chance to pour at the upcoming Collaboration Fest, it was an easy decision. It’s a true collaboration, too; our students and faculty worked alongside the crew at Strange Craft for a real melding of the minds.
The resulting beer that’ll be on at the event is a chewy nitro raspberry porter with cherry and dark-fruit undertones that finishes clean and crisp.
The partnership between Tivoli Brewing and the beer program at MSU Denver has been integral to the success of both. What’s on tap for the future?
We’re excited to continue working with Tivoli and make our relationship even more meaningful. They contribute to our program and student success, and we’re always looking for opportunities to make great beer together.
One example is Roadrunner Red. A product of the collaboration between Tivoli brewers, MSU Denver faculty and our students, it’s an amber that’s the perfect balance between caramel maltiness and a modern, crisp hop flavor.
A portion of the proceeds will go back to the University, and you’ll see it sold at events at the Regency Athletic Complex and on store shelves soon – but it’s pouring right now in the Tivoli taproom.
Additionally, all plans are on track to open another taproom location at Denver International Airport this summer. It’ll be a 3½-barrel system; our students will be involved in brewing different IPAs that will be on tap regularly at DIA.