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Old 09-21-2012, 09:26 PM   #1
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Default thesis ideas for homebrew

Hello everyone,

I have just graduated from calpoly slo last spring in biology and just entered the biochemical engineering MS program there. I'm trying to come up with a thesis project idea that can incorporate homebrewing. My initial thoughts were to come up with something that has to do with wild ales or lambics (especially after tasting SN Brux) and the microbial ecology of yeast and bacteria. So my question is what would you guys do or what would you like to know about homebrewing? Im open to all suggestions so let the brainstorming begin!


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Old 09-21-2012, 10:09 PM   #2
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I would like to know what the complex nutritional requirements of various bacteria and yeast are, and how to maximize the effectiveness of bacteria (mostly) in sour ale production.

Chad Yakobson's Brettanomyces Project is very interesting research (and probably the best available research on Brett) that might be a good starting point for you. http://www.brettanomycesproject.com/

Edit: also, congrats on getting in to SLO.



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Old 09-21-2012, 11:27 PM   #3
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One question which I haven't seen scientifically studied is first wort hopping. Do the aromatic and flavor compounds really make it through the boil more than from a 60 minute bittering addition as suggested based on sensory analysis. And of course then you'd have to explain why or what the chemistry was to enable this.
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Old 09-22-2012, 12:36 AM   #4
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Chad Yakobson did brett. you could do lacto or pedio, or the relationship between brett and pedio. maybe the effect of vessels (plastic, glass, steel, wood, concrete) on mixed fermentations?
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Old 09-24-2012, 03:10 AM   #5
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Might talk with the guys at Firestone. They are starting a huge sour project in Buellton. Call them in Paso, make an appointment and take some ideas with you to talk about and ask them if they have any ideas for you. You might be able to use some of their beer, Firestone Union or barrel aged products.

Good luck!

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Old 09-24-2012, 03:41 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ssf View Post
Chad Yakobson did brett. you could do lacto or pedio, or the relationship between brett and pedio. maybe the effect of vessels (plastic, glass, steel, wood, concrete) on mixed fermentations?
Brett is hardly "done" although Chad's work was great. Playing with variables he didn't like pitching rate, substrates for ester production, fermentation temperature, etc.

He did Brett primary fermentations, you could work on secondary (although this would be more time-intensive).
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Old 09-24-2012, 08:15 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by B-Dub View Post
Might talk with the guys at Firestone. They are starting a huge sour project in Buellton. Call them in Paso, make an appointment and take some ideas with you to talk about and ask them if they have any ideas for you. You might be able to use some of their beer, Firestone Union or barrel aged products.

Good luck!

BW
Thanks for the tip! I was planning on contacting them later this week anyway, but this sounds pretty promising. I'll let you know what they say. I've been reading through the Brett stuff and its pretty impressive. I do like the idea of brett and pedio interactions too. Thanks for all the ideas guys!
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Old 09-24-2012, 08:50 PM   #8
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I have a comment, more from a practical standpoint than a scientific one: Do you really want to start a Master's project on a topic that will take many years to gather the results from? Many sours/lambics/wilds are have multi-year fermentation/aging times (as I understand, I'm no expert on this style).

Also, specialized training means specialized jobs. Specialized jobs mean they tend to be few/far between. Where do you plan to take this training? Are there even jobs you'd be qualified for when you finish? Are Companies looking for people with Master's degrees in Biochemical Engineering where the research project was brewery related? Are they going to pay you for that experience?
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Old 09-24-2012, 10:40 PM   #9
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You could potentially study acid (primarily acetic) production of brett based on oxygen exposure or something like that.
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Old 09-25-2012, 01:31 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by broadbill
I have a comment, more from a practical standpoint than a scientific one: Do you really want to start a Master's project on a topic that will take many years to gather the results from? Many sours/lambics/wilds are have multi-year fermentation/aging times (as I understand, I'm no expert on this style).

Also, specialized training means specialized jobs. Specialized jobs mean they tend to be few/far between. Where do you plan to take this training? Are there even jobs you'd be qualified for when you finish? Are Companies looking for people with Master's degrees in Biochemical Engineering where the research project was brewery related? Are they going to pay you for that experience?
While these are all great questions, i don't this they should dissuade you. A degree is a degree and working in a lab on a project like this is likely to translate to many other fields. Do something you're passionate about.

Chad Y took his extensive research and found enough investors to build a brewery and extend his research. I don't see why that wouldn't be a possibility.

Who knows, in a couple years, I could be looking for someone to oversee yeast and bacteria operations.


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