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Mount professor teaches science of beer at Flying Dog

FNP logoGarth Patterson teaches at Flying Dog

By Allen Etzler | Aug 5, 2017

Very few students make it through Garth Patterson’s general chemistry class.

Those that do get rewarded with the opportunity to enter Patterson’s brewing chemistry class.

After seeing the reception of the class, Patterson, a chemistry professor at Mount St. Mary’s University, decided to carry a similar concept outside of the college as well.

Patterson taught a class of about 20 students Friday evening in Beer 401: the science of brewing — an advanced level class in the “Flying Dog University” program.

Patterson’s class Friday was the fourth group of students he taught in the science of beer program.

The class covered the chemistry of each of the main ingredients in beer — water, yeast, malt and hops.

“Beer is such a great entry point to peak someone’s interest in chemistry,” Patterson said. “So it made a lot of sense to offer the class at a brewery.

Flying Dog will likely be offering more in-depth classes on each of those ingredients as the next step, but the Beer 401 class gave an experience that few people would be able to get, due to Patterson’s passion for both brewing and chemistry.

“I’ve been doing this since the ‘90s, and I have yet to find anyone on my radar who has the knowledge that Garth has,” said Flying Dog’s Justin Tarnow. “He knows so much about why the beer tastes the way it does. I can tell you how we make it. I can tell you what we used. But he tells you about why those ingredients taste that way.”

Using the Flying Dog facility made sense specifically because of the brewery’s acceptance of science in the brewing process, Patterson said.

Because the craft beer boom is relatively new, the science of beer is also inherently new. But if breweries like Flying Dog are going to grow, Patterson said the science of beer is going to need to become a focal point.

“Personally, I think for any small brewery that wants to expand going forward, they’re going to really need to embrace the science of beer to keep coming up with new and different beers.”

As part of the class, students sampled Flying Dog beers that were accentuated by the ingredients Patterson was discussing. When discussing malt, students sampled Flying Dog’s porter “Gonzo,” to experience the forwardness of the malts in that beer. Flying Dog’s variety of beer and willingness to experiment made it an ideal venue to experience beers that focus on each ingredient.

“As we’ve done this class more and more, I’ve kind of figured out which beers to bring in at what point in the class,” Tarnow said. “It took some time, but we have such a large variety of beer that it’s easy to have something to offer.”

Photo by Dan Gross of the Frederick News-Post: Mount St. Mary's professor Garth Patterson, left, teaches Beer 401: The Science of Beer on Friday, as Justin Tarnow, Flying Dog University beer professor, center, pours a beer for students to taste as part of the class.

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