The Augustana Student Association recently voted to approve Augie Brew and Gold, a new club dedicated to brewing and fermenting on campus.
According to its constitution, Brew and Gold aims to educate its members about the science of taste and promote alternative careers in STEM.
“I wanted to use it to change how we think about flavor and taste in a more scientific way than just ‘good,’” club President Noah Hovorka said. “If we say ‘that’s sour and gross,’ why is it sour?”
“Brewing” does not just mean beer. Club leaders said brewing and fermentation is much more than just alcohol.
Stephanie Bruggeman, biology professor and Brew and Gold faculty adviser, teaches a class on campus about brewing and fermentation. The class made their own jerky, dried fruit, pickles, kombucha and more. Bruggeman said fermentation happens in our daily life more than we realize.
“Fermentation is also in ethanol plants and making medicines,” Bruggeman said. “There’s all sorts of different things that people generally don’t associate with fermentation.”
Though Brew and Gold is about more than beer, the first question about a club involving alcohol is how to host events without violating a dry campus policy. The ASA governing documents currently prohibit clubs from spending money on alcohol or spending money to sponsor events where alcohol is served.
“Immediately when adults and parents and some other not-quite-adults-yet hear ‘brewing club,’ they think ‘woo!’ and that’s not what we want to do,” Bruggeman said. “It’s more of a scientific interest in brewing and the brewing process.”
Hovorka said events involving drinking will be hosted off campus at local breweries, where club members will tour facilities and those 21 and up will get to sample beer or wine.
Hovorka said he plans to check members’ IDs, but doesn’t expect that students under 21 will try and drink at alcoholic events due to the nature of the club not being about recreational drinking.
“This is an academic club first,” Hovorka said. “It’s not just to go and get hammered.”
One way the club plans to combat the stereotype of just being a “beer club” is to plan events with a “two to one” ratio: For every one event involving alcohol, they’ll host two that do not, Hovorka said. They also plan to host educational events about safe drinking and warning signs of addiction.
Brew and Gold is hosting their first event in collaboration with the Student Members of the American Chemical Society (SMACS) later this spring. The two clubs will be touring Fernson Brewing Company together.
“I just hope people look at it as more than just a drinking club,” Hovorka said. “There’s a lot more going on than just drinking, and there’s a lot more to brewing and fermentation than just beer and wine.”