Our students at Connoisseur AlesStudents on the foundation degree in Applied Microbiology at University Centre St Helens recently visited local brewer, Connoisseur Ales to study first-hand the role of yeast and the fermentation process in brewing. Connoisseur Ales, based on the edge of St Helens Town Centre is built upon several years brewing experience, specialising in bottle-conditioned ales and casks as well as fruit wines and mead.

Throughout the degree course students investigate the anaerobic fermentation process, yeast type and growth phases, temperature and fruit type on the specific gravity of the product from which they can then calculate the percentage alcohol. The trip emphasised the practical aspect of fermentation to students who have studied the theoretical side of the fermentation process and the commercial applications of population growth curves.

Kevin Yates, head brewer at Connoisseur Ales said: "Science plays a vital role in our industry. Yeast cultures, controlled bacterial inoculation and the interactions of seaweed & collagen which particulate in a beer environment were some of the topics covered during the visit. We fielded some interesting questions about our brewing processes and we hope we enhanced the learning of the Microbiology students by demonstrating practical uses of the theory that they cover.”

Caroline McClymont, lecturer on the foundation degree in Applied Microbiology said: “We would like to thank Connoisseur Ales for allowing us to visit. The scope of a career in Microbiology is huge and our students may wish to pursue further studies such as fermentation technology or in the brewing industry themselves. This field trip gave them an insight into the brewing process on a larger scale than to that of the laboratory.”

The foundation degree in Applied Microbiology at University Centre St Helens has been designed in consultation with local and regional employers and in response to the changing needs of the industry. This course provides an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the fascinating world of bacteria and viruses, paying attention to microbes of medical importance.

Our students taking a look round our brewery