Carroll's home brewers

Author: Malcolm McDowell Woods

Published Date: 6/1/2017

Categories: Biochemistry Chemistry F1RST Magazine F1RST Summer 2017 Mathematics

Professorial Pints

Faculty fermenters create a unique community at Carroll

photo illustration of Carroll home brewers

Back in 1846, when Carroll admitted its first green freshmen, the beers that made Milwaukee famous were at best microbreweries. The forerunner of Pabst, Best and Company, began brewing beer in 1844. Blatz started up in 1851. Frederick Miller arrived from Germany in 1854 (carrying his own yeast from Germany!). And Joseph Schlitz opened his namesake brewery in 1858. 

It was clearly a pretty good time for startups. Carroll is going strong, 171 years later. And those beers? They made Milwaukee famous and became known far and wide.

Everything moves in cycles, though, even beer. Today microbrews are once again in vogue, brewing startups abound and more than a few budding braumeisters are tapping into the DIY trend. Even Carroll faculty.

When Dr. Tom St. George, an assistant professor of mathematics, arrived at Carroll three years ago, he discovered that a couple of his colleagues were home brewers. “I jumped into it as a way to get to know some of the people here,” he said. Well, that, and he likes beer.

St. George notes that Carroll’s home brewers are mostly from the mathematics and chemistry departments. In his own mathematics department, associate professors Dr. David Feil and Dr. John Symms were brewing, as were associate chemistry professors Dr. Kevin McMahon and Dr. Michael Schuder and Tom Pahnke, a clinical associate professor in physical therapy. “Most of us have scientific minds,” St. George said. “We’re quite interested in the process, not just the outcome.”

Of course, the outcome is beer. So, it’s like a cool chemistry experiment you get to drink. And these faculty members do. Symms noted that they get together informally to talk beer and have, on occasion, sampled each other’s creations. Pahnke, who at 22 years and counting, is a home brewing elder, said the topic often comes up before or after campus meetings. “It’s always fun to hear what others are doing.”

Toasting Carroll

We asked our professorial panel to recommend a few brewskis that pair well with the Pioneer life.

a lineup of beer bottles

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