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VT students study the science of malting and brewing

Virginia Tech students learning to brew beer.

Blacksburg, VA - Virginia Tech is now offering a course that most likely has mass appeal on a college campus: brewing.

There's good reason for that, beer is big business. According to the most recent numbers from the Brewers Association, the craft beer market brought in $55.7 billion in 2014 and employed 424,000 people.

For Virginia Tech employee, Herbert Bruce, it was an easy decision to agree to bring the science of brewing to Virginia Tech's campus. "I love brewing. I love teaching brewing. I think it's a lot of fun," said Bruce.

Two years ago Tenisha Hodges-Wilson didn't know anything about beer. Now with Bruce's "Applied Brewing Science" course, she thinks she's found her career. "I don't really want to be a master brewer, because those are the people who come up with the formula for the beers that you drink. I more want to work on the microbiological side of it and make the yeast," said Hodges-Wilson.

Bruce says new career options like that are exactly what he intended when he started the course. "My objective for this course is, once they're done with this course they can step into any brewery and be functional immediately. We've had a number of brewers already say anytime that we want anybody to have an internship they can have an internship," said Bruce.

Even if brewing ends up not being the students' passion, Bruce says they can take what they learned to other fields."You could actually bring it over to something like the pharmaceutical industry and things like that. A lot of the processes are the same. This is biochemical engineering what it really comes down to," explained Bruce.

The students know this class might raise some eyebrows, but they say, it shouldn't."If you can go to Food Lion or you can go to Kroger, or any of these stores and buy it, there should be a job to be able to make the product safely, and people who specialize in it. Wouldn't you want a specialist instead of just a random person making a decent or ok product, you want a great product," explained Hodges-Wilson.

If this class sounds too good to be true, the students don't get to drink the beer. It goes down the drain, because the focus is on the science that goes into making it.

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