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Fermentation 101: new course toasts brewers of all stripes

YEAST and the many forms of fermentation in food and drink will get a thorough look, says course facilitator Dr. Kevin McCabe, at work at the Full Sail lab. “We see it as a kind of community education class to gauge interest and get people engaged,” McCabe said.

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
YEAST and the many forms of fermentation in food and drink will get a thorough look, says course facilitator Dr. Kevin McCabe, at work at the Full Sail lab. “We see it as a kind of community education class to gauge interest and get people engaged,” McCabe said.



The Columbia Gorge is now home to an estimated 45 wineries, 14 breweries, 13 cideries, two distilleries, and one of the world’s largest yeast laboratories — not counting dozens, probably hundreds, of home brewers.

All those brewers represent different applications of “fermentation science,” the topic of a six-part instructional series starting next month through Columbia Gorge Community College.

Local industry leaders in such disparate fields as beer, cider, wine, spirits, kombucha baking and fermented foods will describe the commonalities uniting their work, facilitated by Dr. Kevin McCabe, lab supervisor at Full Sail Brewing Co. and former microbiology professor at the college.

“I’ve missed the students and the teaching, and have been learning so much here in the past two years that we sort of concocted this idea of this food and fermentation science project.

“We see it as a kind of community education class to gauge interest and get people engaged,” McCabe said.

“It will be every other week on a Thursday, grabbing people from all aspects of food and beverages to promote the community, and share what they do and how they do it,” said McCabe, who described his role as “facilitating and filling in the gaps.”

First speaker will be brewer Chris Davis of Full Sail, a former teacher who McCabe said “does a lot of stuff outside work, and while he can talk about beer, he can also give the broader perspective,” including kombucha and chocolate — another example of a fermented food, McCabe points out.

Students will learn the principles of fermentation science, systems design and engineering, social and cultural implications of quality food and beverage production, agricultural and industrial waste and water treatment, and fermentation business management.

“These courses are designed for anyone with an interest in fermentation, whether they’re established professionals, people who would like to work in the field, or home brewers looking to compare notes with industry experts throughout our region,” said Suzanne Burd, community education coordinator at the college.

“The Oregon State Legislature has invested in fermentation science programs at our colleges and universities because these investments create jobs in a rapidly-growing industry and add value to our agricultural crops. Many of those new jobs are right here in our region, and Columbia Gorge Community College is doing its part to help grow this important sector of our economy,” Burd added.

The Fermentation Science Course starts Jan. 12 and will be held every other Thursday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on the Hood River – Indian Creek Campus of Columbia Gorge Community College. For details and registration, call 541 506-6011 or visit cgcc.edu/schedule.



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