DAVIS, Calif. — Four UC Davis students in Charlie Bamforth’s Practical Malting and Brewing class earned more than good grades for their final project. They got to work with Sudwerk Brewing Co. and produce their winning recipe on a commercial scale. Their Class is in Session IPA will debut May 21.
Each year, students in the Food Science and Technology 102B class compete for the Iron Brew title, where student teams present a beer they formulate, brew on campus, and analyze. A panel of professional brewers – from Sudwerk, Anheuser-Busch InBev in Fairfield, Track 7 in Sacramento, Sierra Nevada in Chico and Rare Barrel in Berkeley – judged the entries on March 9. Sudwerk added value to the prize in 2014 by offering to help the students commercially produce the beer at its Davis brewery. Last year’s Iron Brew Kölsch sold out in its first week.
Next week, they’ll transfer the brew to 20 kegs, and will release it to the public and at an event from 4-8 p.m. Thursday, May 21, at The Dock, 2001 Second St., in Davis. The following Wednesday, May 27, at The Davis Farmers Market, Davis Soroptimists will serve it at their charity beer garden, open from 4:30 to 8 p.m. The Iron Brew also will be available at a handful of select local venues, while supplies last.
Bamforth, the Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Brewing Science at UC Davis, said, “I truly view this as a capstone class that many students take as their last course at Davis. It brings together all of the basic and applied science and engineering that they have learned, and shows the students just how tough it is to make great beer – but how satisfying it can be.”
This year’s winning team included Jeff Damilano, Evann Dufort, Abby Kanyer and Brandon Rotondo. They worked with Sudwerk lead brewer Mike Hutson to scale up the recipe (from 5 gallons to what will become 20 kegs) and select ingredients from the brewery’s stock. On April 24, Sudwerk brewer Brennan Fleming supervised the brew.
“I feel like a celebrity – and very, very lucky,” Dufort said on brew day, as steam rose from Sudwerk’s copper kettle. “We want to thank everyone who helped us.”
Session beers allow drinkers to enjoy more than one – within a reasonable time period or “session” – without overwhelming the senses or reaching inappropriate levels of intoxication. The style has long been Sudwerk’s specialty. Session IPAs are especially difficult to produce, as India Pale Ales typically have higher alcohol (7 percent ABV or more) that help balance the bitter hop flavor. Class is in Session IPA will be about 4.2 percent ABV, with a golden caramel color.
Kanyer said the team found that balance by adding some of the hops at the end, in a process called dry hopping. “It has those floral and fruity notes but it’s not going to wipe out your palate.”
Sudwerk has deep connections to UC Davis, and provides classroom space above the brewery for its Extension Master Brewer’s Program. The affiliation serves both sides. Sudwerk’s brewing staff are all products of UCD’s programs.
Building on 25 years of family legacy and brewing tradition, Sudwerk Brewing Co. specializes in artisanal craft brews, specifically West Coast craft lagers. Its taproom, The Dock Store, at 2001 Second St., Davis, is open from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays, 4 to 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, and 2 to 8 p.m. on weekends. It offers a rotating menu of experimental and innovative beers, “honest pints” and growler fills, fresh White Labs brewers’ yeast, and good conversation. Learn more at http://sudwerkbrew.com.