Multivariate analysis of nuclear magnetic resonance imaging data and tandem gas chromatography-mass spectrometry for the quantification of diacetyl, ethanol, and carbohydrate content in home-brewed and industry produced fermented malt beverages.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to say brewing beer?

Most students don’t realize the potential for fun that exists for chemistry majors.

As a capstone for their Chemical Instrumentation Lab, students were instructed to think of their own project to analyze a topic of their choice.

Caitlin Quinn ’07, Marc Hansel ’08 and Jess Fullagar ’08 thought a little differently by choosing to brew and analyze beer.

“We wanted to choose something of interest since we knew we’d be spending many hours a week both in and out of lab working on it,” said Quinn, a chemistry major.

They began by brewing three homemade beers: a porter, an amber and an ale. They then purchased three commercial beers for comparison.

The components on which they were compared were the percent alcohol content, the difference in carbohydrates, the chemicals that make beer stale, how the brewing conditions affect those components and distinguishing features between home brewed and commercial beers.

“Our project quickly caught the attention of both faculty members and students outside of the chemistry department,” said Quinn.

“The project was something fun, and a project that you don’t normally see in a lab assignment,” she said.

The idea for the project came as an original idea for an experiment that would be different than a typical lab project.

“This project was more applied to something we wanted to learn, rather than just a direct assignment from the professor,” said Hansel.

Although the lab was enjoyable and interesting, it posed more difficulties than a typical lab.

“It was more challenging than a regular lab because we had to do a lot of outside research and develop the procedures to analyze the beers ourselves,” said Quinn.

Despite the challenges faced by these students, they appreciated being able to design their own final.

“Being able to choose our own topic made students more enthusiastic and more interested in the project and experiment quality,” said Fullagar.

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