University of Arkansas students showcase craft beers from new brewing course

Larissa Morley (left), a horticulture major at the University of Arkansas, works to brew a beer alongside Bernardo Guimaraes, a doctoral food science student as part of a new brewing class. (Courtesy/University of Arkansas)

Students at the University of Arkansas recently finished brewing a variety of craft beers as part of their coursework in a new class.

The course is taught by Scott Lafontaine, an assistant professor in food chemistry.

Lafontaine’s students were tasked with choosing a beer style, developing a recipe, brewing the beer in the university’s beverage development facility, and analyzing the final product to assess its adherence to their initial targets, including alcohol content, color ranges, and bitterness levels.

The beers were presented by students from different academic backgrounds at the end of last fall’s semester.

The beers included two IPAs created by Bernardo Guimaraes, a doctoral student in food science. One was dry-hopped using hops harvested at the fruit research station in Clarksville, and the other used Citra hops. Horticulture major Larissa Morley brewed an oatmeal stout named “Roasted Revelry Stout,” which explored the impact of a hot mash on the beer’s mouthfeel.

Other students also contributed unique creations. Matthew Aitkens developed an American-adjunct Lager, and Spencer Cullins crafted a Berliner Weisse using a kettle-souring process similar to yogurt production.

Lafontaine joined the school in October 2022. He was drawn to the UA’s brewing program partially because of Arkansas’s rich agricultural history.

“A lot of schools want a brewing program,” he told the Flyer in 2023. “But you have to have an agricultural product to be successful with one. Arkansas has rice, which is a very underutilized crop when you look at how brewers treat it right now.”

Aitkens’s lager used ARoma 22, a jasmine-type aromatic rice developed by the Arkansas Rice Breeding Program, which is a part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

Some of Lafontaine’s students are enrolled in the Certificate of Proficiency in Brewing Science program, housed in Bumpers College. The program is designed for current UA students or industry professionals interested in a theoretical and practical introduction to brewing and fermentation. Through the program, students are prepared for careers in brewing, operations, packing, quality control, distribution and more. It requires 15 hours of coursework and an internship in the brewing industry for direct experience.