Atlanta Science Festival gets geeky with beer

Experts bring new meaning to the beer tasting

science-of-beer-logo-03Next week’s Atlanta Science Festival offers events primed for the craft beer palate. On two different nights, local experts in biology and neuroscience will join up with Orpheus Brewing and Monday Night Brewing to educate drinkers on brewing science, and why the process works the way it does. And yes, there will be beer for drinking.

This year’s events will be broader than the inaugural Science of Beer event last year, according to organizer and home brewer Jacob Shreckengost, a neuroscientist and director of undergraduate research at Emory University.

Science of Beer I takes place at Orpheus, our intown sour experts, on Monday, March 23. The event is organized as a talk, tasting, and tour, where Georgia State researchers Christopher Cornelison, Ph.D., and Sidney Crow, Ph.D. will address the bacterial fermentation inherent to the sour beer brewing process. Dr. Crow studies the ecology and physiology of microorganisms with a focus on yeast and fungi; Dr. Cornelison is a postdoc associate who works with Dr. Crow. If you’ve ever wondered what happens with the yeast and sugars that give saisons and farmhouse ales their funky nose, this is the place to be.

Wednesday, March 25, attendees will head to Monday Night Brewing for Science of Beer II, where Emory professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences Kerry Ressler will discuss our perception of smell in relation to different hops, and how our brains process it. The result is our personal experience of the finished beer.

“Right now, Ressler’s research is in post traumatic stress disorder,” Shreckengost said, of the man who helped found the Grady Trauma Project. “But as an undergrad, Ressler worked with the scientists who discovered olfactory receptors—they impact how we encode scent in the brain—Ressler’s lab director went on to win the Nobel Prize, and he was involved in that work.”

Said another way, this is an opportunity to discuss beer with true masters—a craft beer tasting session may never get more brilliant than these two events.

Both nights will start out with the brewers introducing their beer, they’ll pass out samples (Orpheus may even pour an as-yet unreleased style), and then the scientists will give their brief presentations. Afterwards, attendees can enjoy more beer while perusing various demo tables that further explore the brewing process.

Schrekengost says to expect to see demonstrations ranging from mash to fermentation—an iodine test that changes the color of starch sounded very cool—and the experts will be on-hand for questions, all without the rush of a traditional 20-minute brewery tour.

Tickets, $18 each including tasting samples, are available at (21 and over only).