According to Sandrock, microbreweries funded by SAB tend to be in engineering and microbiology departments. Sandrock said that a course in biochemical engineering is available, as there is a shift away from petrochemical products to more biologically based products in the chemical engineering field and that yeast, a key ingredient in beer, is a model that is widely used. Sandrock explains the role of chemical engineering in brewing beer as, “Our building things, the stuff that comes out of processing system, has undergone a chemical transformation. Now in beer brewing processes, that happens in two places: in the enzymatic conversion that happens in the mash tub, so that’s a biological process, but it’s also a chemical process as it’s a capitalised process that converts the starches into sugars. Then there’s the second process that converts the sugars into alcohol, which is a biological process, but it also involv[es] [a]chemical transformation, so this kind of process is exactly the kind of process that chemical engineers are trained to understand, so it makes a lot of sense that chemical engineers are drawn to this. We’ve had people in the brewing team from food sciences, from micro[biology] and from chemical engineering.”

Sandrock explained that beer competitions work by judging beer using a standardised set of guidelines, a procedure for judging, and a scoresheet. Sandrock explained that the competition does not answer the question of “what is the nicest beer to drink”, but which brewery could brew a beer closest to a particular target style. The beers are entered in unmarked bottles for the purpose of objectivity. Sandrock explained the process of making a beer which was fit for competition, saying, “What [we are] doing is grinding this raw product and adding it into water and doing three weeks of process and hoping that at the end of all that, what you set out to achieve is what actually happened and at any of those processes, something could have gone wrong. So we do the same thing a couple of times, choose the best one and that’s the one we enter.” There are five prescribed categories in the intervarsity brewing competition, and UP has won at least one award in four of these categories, but is yet to win the award for best label design.

UP has won an award in one of the categories in each year of the competition, and has previously won the award for best beer overall. A R25 000 prize is awarded to the overall winner, and a R10 000 prize is awarded to the winners of each category.


Photo: Kay O’Brien

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