The science of beer by philanthropy

May 31, 2018 Ashley Han
Endowed professor shares his expertise in brewing and malting science

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Charlie Bamforth
Brewing and malting holds a special place in Dr. Charlie Bamforth’s heart, and being the first Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor allows him to share his passion with students, staff and the wider community. For nearly 20 years, Bamforth has taught courses at UC Davis and in the Extension Program, worked with many brewing companies, pursued an extensive research program, given weekly presentations outside the university, all with the help of philanthropy.

“Brewing’s a very hands-on thing. You’ve got to be able to have facilities that allow people to carry out the practical activities and learn from it.” Bamforth said. “Although both theory and practice are important, you’ll learn more from actually doing things rather than just sitting and listening to someone. We’re very blessed to be able to do that here at UC Davis.”

UC Davis is the university that pioneered the education of brewers in the United States, starting in 1958.

“We’re dependent on the generosity, the goodwill and the foresight of people who are in the brewing industry,” Bamforth said. “Thanks to philanthropy, we’ve got this beautiful brewery that is home to millions of dollars’ worth of equipment; the finest small scale brewery in any university anywhere.”

Bamforth said the support from large and small brewers ensures the university runs programs like online extension courses and serves as a brewery trial site for companies to explore new concepts. Bamforth’s upper division brewery course offers students an opportunity to create their own beer and present their brews to a panel of judges.  

“It’s a very popular course,” Bamforth said. “Whichever team wins, they get to brew their beer at Sudwerk Brewery, and it’s made available for sale in Davis and often beyond Davis. That gives tremendous incentive for students to not only brew the best beer, but also to analyze it, position it, market it and come up with logos, slogans and all the little details.”

With retirement coming up this December, Bamforth said he expects to continue being involved through invited lectures, contributing more books to add to the seventeen he has already written and visiting brewing companies across the globe.

“What I hope will happen is that my successor will build on the legacy that I leave behind, namely a fantastically well-equipped brewery and research laboratory,” Bamforth said. “When I came to Davis, I inherited a rather shoddy-but-well-loved tiny brewery, but now, 20 years later, I’ll be handing over an amazing facility with amazing equipment. I hope that UC Davis will continue to build up the brewing professional team, and it would be great to have more endowed chairs and professors who are dedicated to brewing.”

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