As the craft brewing industry matures, opportunities abound for other ancillary sectors to step in and further grow or enhance the current scene. We know that universities large and small have been doing this by now offering degrees in brewing science and business. At Virginia Tech, this connection between the university and its nearby booming brewing scene is becoming even stronger.
As any university does, Virginia Tech started where it made sense, with some malting, fermentation and brewing science classes within its overall food and agriculture program. In those classes, students learn all the serious stuff and then get to apply that knowledge into school work and brewing actual beer, which is leading to distribution around campus and maybe the surrounding area. Cool stuff and fairly standard as far as these programs go.
But, this next layer of the program is interesting. The big brains at Virginia Tech have also developed their very own, new professional grade brewing system to use in its program but also as a resource for the area’s craft brewers.
From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
[Craft brewers] will also be able to use Tech’s facilities as a part of research projects to experiment with beer that would otherwise force craft breweries to slow production.
Earlier this week, Wiersema said about a half dozen regional craft brewers came to Blacksburg to see the new facility and they began discussing what the brewhouse could do for them. The brewers included some of the state’s largest like Richmond’s Stone Brewing and Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company from Harrisonburg.
The article goes on to speak with Rising Silo owner Greg Zielske who said the campus brewhouse will have a “heavy influence on his small farm brewery,” going so far as to hire an intern to learn how to use it.
He also said the quality control mechanisms at the brewhouse will help him refine his beer and will help the tiny brewery that has built a strong New River Valley following in the last year to grow.
The brewhouse equipment is currently going through the approval process from the Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.