Colorado State University fermentation science students gain unique, hands-on experience at the Ramskeller teaching brewery

Jeff Biegert with a group of students smiling behind masks at the Brewery
Brewmaster Jeff Biegert, second from left, with students in the Ramskeller brewery.

Located on the first floor of the Lory Student Center, the production and teaching brewery located in the Ramskeller Pub provides the opportunity for Fermentation Science and Technology Program students to brew up innovative beer flavors. The three new brews currently on tap are the F(e)ST-iv-Fall Vienna Lager, the Hey! Z’s Comet IPA, and the Power Patch Sour, available to order with a choice of a raspberry, mango, or woodruff flavor shot.

Great brews and great opportunities

The specialty beers available at the pub are designed and brewed by CSU students and staff, and are crafted with locally sourced raw materials, making these the freshest brews anywhere on campus. The quality interns conduct microbiological and analytical checks throughout the brewing process, priding themselves on only serving the highest quality brews to the CSU community.

Jeff Biegert, New Belgium Brewing sponsored instructor and brewmaster with the Fermentation Science and Technology Program, oversees the brewhouse in the Ramskeller Pub.

“It’s really important for us to use our world-class facilities to teach and to provide opportunities for students to gain hands-on, real-world experience,” said Biegert. “The job placement rate for fermentation science graduates is over 90%.”

The three new flavors were produced by students in the Brewing Science I (FTEC 422) and II (FTEC 460) courses, both taught by Biegert, along with student interns and John Wilson, the graduate teaching assistant. With so many different steps in the process of brewing, including fermentation, beer finishing, and packaging, there are abundant opportunities for students to gain valuable experience in beer crafting.

Jeff Biegert and Katie Fromuth smile and toast their pints of beer together
Katie Fromuth, right, and Jeff Biegert toast some Ramskeller brews (pre-pandemic).

“I love the interaction of all the science disciplines in fermentation and brewing,” said Katie Fromuth, fermentation science and technology quality lab manager. “To bring that to students is such a pleasure. When they see firsthand how so many sciences are applied and how amazing it is putting it together, they have ‘Ah, ha’ moments. It is wonderful to see those moments and watch them learn and grow.”

Bryce Blanchard is a senior in the Fermentation Science and Technology Program, and an intern brewer for the brewery in the Ramskeller. In this position, Blanchard assists in recipe design and brewing operations, which include material organization, carrying out the brewing process, and ensuring the quality of the product throughout each step.

“One thing I have learned working in this brewery is that brew days may not go as planned, and when unexpected things happen it is how a brewer responds that makes the difference between a good brewer and a great brewer,” said Blanchard.

“Industry connections and an increased social network are two of the many things I like about working at the Ramskeller,” Blanchard continued. “The number of larger breweries in town that have a relationship with CSU has allowed for employees to come tour our brewery and share a little bit about their own. Another amazing part about working as a brewer at the Ramskeller is that we aren’t always constricted to producing a single base brand like most breweries. We have creativity, flexibility, and ultimately we have the final say on what beer we brew.”

Brewing process

Three flavor shots in small glasses: red, yellow, and green.
The Power Patch Sour is available to order with a raspberry, mango, or woodruff flavor shot, shown above.

To begin the process of creating a new brew, Biegert and Jeffrey Callaway, associate director of the FST program, meet with Lory Student Center and Ramskeller Pub staff members to decide which types of beer to brew, typically focusing on a type of beer suitable for that season. Biegert takes the ideas from this collaboration and creates a recipe and orders the raw materials to make the beer. Historically, the beers from the Brewing Science classes within the FST program are the foundation for the Ramskeller brews. The entire process, from the ordering of the raw materials to the finished beer on tap, takes approximately three to four weeks.

“The mission of the Ramskeller Brewhouse is to make world class beer while providing opportunity for FST students to learn and participate with hands-on experience in a commercial brewery,” Biegert said. “The brewery is also a showcase of the numerous industry partnerships that the FST program has developed over the years. The brewery features state-of-the-art process and controls automation. We also partner with the College of Engineering, so these students also have opportunities to do senior design projects in the brewery.”

Check out the Ramskeller Pub the next time you’re looking for a bite to eat or a drink on campus! To find out more about the new brews on tap, head to the Ramskeller Pub & Grub page of the Untappd website.

The Fermentation Science and Technology Program is in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.