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Sunday, September 24, 2023


Brewing up alcohol, success

Hotel and Restaurant Management students gather to observe graduate student Chris Ray as he measures the pH levels in fermenting wine. | Jorge Porras/The Daily Cougar

Maya chocolate stout, strawberry cream malt liquor and chocolate raspberry — this is not a beer menu from a new trendy bar, but a few class projects produced by the students of the Production of Alcoholic Beverages class at the Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management.

The class offers a wealth of knowledge about how beer, wine and spirits are produced and refined by giving students hands-on experience in making alcoholic beverages of his or her own.

Glenn Cordua, assistant professor, established the class in 2002 as a part of the Hilton School of Hotel and Restaurant Management.

Students enrolled have received an in-depth look into how some popular alcoholic beverages are made.

“We want to form interest in the beverages themselves. We want to prepare people interested in a career in the beverage industry,” said Cordua, explaining the goals of the course.

Other than the idea of free liquor, beer and wine, students who take this class can look forward to learning how to check the pH levels in fermenting wines— and how to raise or lower it to result in a better product.

They also experiment with different flavor profiles for beer, and understand the chemical reaction that takes place when making champagnes.

“It’s a great way to hide science,” said Aaron Corsi, Cordua’s graduate assistant.

One of Cordua’s first assignments requires students to go out and try different beers and wines to get an idea of what they would like to make.

Chris Ray, who already has a background in the alcoholic beverage industry, attests that even with his advanced knowledge of alcohol production, he was still able to learn invaluable knowledge which was vital in seeking a future in the beverage service/production industry.

“I am a level one sommelier,” Ray said. “After taking the class, my understanding is much more in-depth. You learn the scientific approach.”

For students who are interested in taking the course as a minor or an elective, there is a wine appreciation and beer and spirits making course available, with classes as large as 32 students.

The only requirement is that attending students must be at least 21 years old.

“Definitely one of the best classes offered by the school,” said Angie Avants, HRM graduate student. “After you leave the class you just want to go out and keep trying new wines and beers.”

Any students who have an interest or a desire to learn about the production and science behind wine, beer and spirit production are welcome to enroll.

“The students from the other colleges, who end up coming here to take the class, end up having a blast,” Cordua said. “It’s completely different from their academic world.”

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