Grand opening celebrates Fermentation Science and Technology’s world-class facilities

Like a fine Bière de Garde or a mature cheddar, the grand opening of Colorado State University’s Fermentation Science and Technology Program’s Gifford Building facilities has been aged long after the hard work was done.

“This has been a dream in the making for a very long time,” said Lise Youngblade, dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences, as she welcomed attendees to the April 17 event.

“The program is officially about 8-and-a-half years old,” Jeff Callaway, associate director of the FST program, said as the state-of-the-art facilities were finally formally unveiled. “So just in time to have a grand opening ceremony, right?”

A private celebration of FST was held outside the Gifford Building, complete with student research posters, music, student-brewed beer, food and a look inside the brew kitchen and innovation hub.

Sponsors powered growth

CSU officials thanked companies, donors and individuals for their contributions that sparked the curriculum plus the growth and expansion of the program housed in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition.

Companies thanked included major sponsors New Belgium Brewing Co., Anheuser-Busch InBev, Odell Brewing Co. and Emerson Automation Solutions plus others such as Anton Paar, Atlas CopCo, Crafted ERP, GF Coolfit, K-Malt and Zahm & Nagel.

“As much as companies are fantastic, companies are made up of people,” Callaway said. “And, at the end of the day, that’s really what has made what we’ve done successful.”

Looking back, looking ahead

Former and now interim food science and human nutrition department head Chris Melby credited several forces for the program’s advancement, particularly Jack Avens, now retired professor, who started the first brewing course, and Peter Bouckaert, the longtime New Belgium brewmaster who now runs Purpose Brewing and Cellars.

Chris Gentile, incoming department head, spoke to the potential for the future. “Over the last 10 years or so, we’ve built the foundations of this program. And it’s largely because of the vision, the hard work and the support of many of you,” said Gentile, who explained that the goal for the next 10 years is to make the university’s FST program the “preeminent in the nation.”

Beer for student projects has been brewed in the building for 14 months on the new brewing system, and projects about non-alcoholic drinks and fermented food have been completed, but celebration plans were postponed due to the pandemic.

A mix of academics and industry

Jeff Biegert, whose official title is New Belgium Brewing Sponsored Fermentation Science & Technology Instructor & Brewmaster, said CSU has perfectly paired academics and industry.

“There’s no other place like this in the world,” Biegert said. “This is a miniature brewery that is professional at every level. The students are getting such an experience here that they won’t get anywhere else. We are really a unique program.”

Biegert concluded his remarks by raising his beer, “Cheers.”

See photos from the Fermentation Science and Technology Program Gifford Building facilities opening on the College of Health and Human Sciences Flickr page.

The Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.