Professors that double as homebrewers present College Hour on beer

Two American River College professors that moonlight as brewers, crafting and bottling their own beer at home, will host a College Hour lecture on the “History and Science of Beer” on Oct. 2, discussing, among other things, how beer potentially “saved western civilization” during the era of the Black Plague.

The event will be held at 12:15 p.m. in Raef Hall, where science professor Rick Topinka and English professor Michael Angelone will give a lecture on the chemistry, process and art of brewing beer.

Both professors have been brewing beer at home for a varying amount of years. Angelone has been brewing for about 10 years, whereas Topinka has been brewing for 20.

Both professors have offices that are across the hall from one another, and they became friends after talking to each other about home brewing.

“We share an interest in home brewing, and so we have talked about it. (Angelone) proposed this idea (the college hour), and so I figured that I love brewing, I love teaching about biology and it seemed like a great opportunity,” said Topinka.

The College Hour will have a traditional lecture format as well as a cooking demonstration.

Angelone hopes to have the water already boiling by the time students arrive so he can show the whole process of brewing.

Topinka, who has hosted other College Hours before, expects to see between 20 to 70 people at the event, mostly due to the interesting topic being discussed.

Angelone plans to also discuss the book “Beer is Proof God Loves Us,” written by UC Davis professor Charles W. Bamforth, and titled after a quote often attributed to Benjamin Franklin. The book explains how beer potentially saved western civilization during the events of the Black Plague.

“(Bamforth’s) basic hypothesis is that even children were drinking beer in their porridge in the mornings, because it was seen as a healthy alternative to water,” Angelone said.

Angelone feels that students may be surprised to learn that their professor spends his free time homebrewing.

“Part of me feels that the culture of College Hour is to talk about things you do, both in the classroom and the things that also make you human that you do outside the classroom, and often times students don’t think instructors have interests outside their own disciplines,” said Angelone. “I’m the English teacher, so (I’m) the last person you expect to do a College Hour event on beer.”

 

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