Beer and biodiversity

Posted on Mar 4, 2016 in Campus News and News

Lawrence KU alumni and friends gathered at the Adams Alumni Center recently for a scientific lecture on microbiology and chemistry, including an opportunity to experiment with different variables and test outcomes.

Okay, it was a beer tasting.

But Association members and guests were treated to a fascinating interactive talk that touched on the history of brewing and the science behind the various flavors and varieties of brews we’ve come to enjoy. Lawrence Network leaders Brandon Petz, b’06 g’07, Kyle Eichelberger, p’12 and Tyler Rockers, d’13, coordinator of alumni programs, organized the event for the Lawrence Alumni Network.

Free State Brewery’s head of brewing and bottling, Steve Bradt, c’88, entertained the audience by bringing tasting samples of Free State beer along with small containers of the various hops, malts and yeast that combine to create some of the most popular brews at Kansas’s first brewery. From John Brown Ale to Bora Bora IPA, guests could sample some of the different beer varieties while learning about the science–and the ingredients–behind each brew.

Friends from the KU Biodiversity Institute were also on hand to address the crowd and share their display on microbes, the single-cell organisms that are part of our everyday lives.

The KU Natural History Museum, recently ranked number one among public university natural history museums, is currently featuring an exhibit on the microbial world called “Exploring the Microbiome.” You might be surprised to learn how many microbes and bacteria surround us.

Fortunately, as Bradt informed the audience during his lecture, hops contain a natural antimicrobial property.

“No known pathogens can live in beer,” Bradt reassured the audience. “So it’s a relatively safe drink.”

That’s a relief. In fact, I think I’ll drink to that.
–David Johnston

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