Sierra Nevada Brewing Owners Give $2 Million To UC Davis Brewing Program

RealClear Staff


     Just when it was thought these brewers couldn’t get any more legendary, Sierra Nevada tossed $2 million to UC Davis in an effort to further enable the campus’s bubbling brewing-science program.

[UC Davis Brewing Science Program (est. 1971) students Rod Hughes (left) and Stephen Borutta (right) | Photo: Karen Higgins, UC Davis and Sudwerk Brewing Co.]

This gift acts as an endowment for further funding that will enable the program to provide the school with a full-time staff brewing position. The funded staffer will focus on excellence in hands-on ale apprenticeship in the UC Davis Department of Food Science & Technology.

The craft-beer colleague who’ll be the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company Endowed Brewer will be sincerely stoked on mentoring and overseeing students and teaching assistants, campus-brewery maintenance and its equipment, and assisting in teaching brewing classes.

“This Endowed Brewer position will allow us to provide outstanding practical brewing experiences for our students as we continue to align hands-on training with the best theoretical education,” Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences Charlie Bamforth said. “Students don’t get that combination in most other brewing programs.”

“My family and I have supported the brewing program at UC Davis for nearly two decades,” Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Founder Ken Grossman said. “Charlie Bamforth is not only an expert in brewing science, technology and engineering but a frequent guest speaker at our brewery and a close, personal friend. The ideals that he and the rest of the staff instill in the students are the very same principles that have guided our success in craft brewing for the past 36 years.”

[Professor Bamforth in action | Source: University of California/YouTube]

UC Davis actually found their first Endowed Brewer, Joe Williams. Originally a UC staff researcher, Joe brings a bundle of empirical knowledge to the academic, ale program. Not only will he be expected to teach classes and tackle his brewery-management duties, Williams will also serve as a liaison to the brewing industry for UC Davis—as well as hosting campus-brewery visitors. Joe will be the multi-hat man on campus—drink that up and walk proud, Joe!

The Grossman-Bamforth Buddy System

All this stems from a long-time friendship between Grossman and Bamforth dating back to 1999. It was then when Bamforth joined the UC Davis team to lead the campus brewing-science program.

“Over the years, Ken has been incredibly good to UC Davis,” Bamforth said, doting on Grossman for generously sharing his expertise in commercial brewing with students. Over the years, Grossman lectured three times a year in the Introduction to Beer and Brewing course. To this day, he often hosts Bamforth and his students for tours of the Sierra Nevada brewery in Chico.

“Our students have learned from Ken the true meaning of quality,” Bamforth said. “Everything at Sierra Nevada speaks quality, from the brewing itself to the company’s insistence on sustainable approaches to the process. Sierra Nevada is the ultimate in brewing excellence, and it is marvelous that they have demonstrated their commitment to UC Davis, where our mantra also is about doing things the right way,” he added.

[Video: courtesy of University of California]

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company

Since 1980, Sierra Nevada has been slinging suds to millions. They’re regarded as a high-end hops crew, using only the finest ingredients. Their trailblazing tenacity has availed them offices on both coasts—Chico, California, and Mills River, North Carolina. They’ve set the bar for brew standards globally with innovations in their lager labs and advances in sustainability. If you’ve not already (Really...never?), check out their fountain of foams including Pale Ale, Torpedo®, Hop Hunter® IPA, Nooner® Pilsner, Otra Vez, ™ Kellerweis®, Porter, Stout and a strong stream of seasonal, specialty and limited-release beers.

[Video: courtesy of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.]

UC Davis Brewing Science

UC Davis has been toiling in food technology since 1958—they know their stuff! Mentoring and research have been integral tools of their brewing science. The Department of Food Science & Technology serves students in terms of chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology and other foundational sciences. Each program student has the opportunity to hone their skills in order to pursue a brewing profession or a related business.

Both undergraduate and graduate students can earn their degrees (bachelor’s/master’s) in food science with a brewing option. Brewing courses focus on the malting and brewing processes involved in making beer.

UC Davis’s program has successfully started hundreds of students—many transition from other majors (e.g., chemical engineering, viticulture and enology)—on a path going from the brewing-science program to senior, technical positions within the North American brewing and brewing-supply industries and beyond. (Yeah, the ale world’s full of academics. #Rad)

Practical-brewing training is taught in a 1.5-barrel-capacity brewery within the August A. Busch III Brewing and Food Science Laboratory and the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Research Laboratory—the latter clearly illustrates Grossman’s commitment to UC Davis’s brewing-education efforts. Students are privy to state-of-the-art brewing facilities on infinite scales and associated, analytical instrumentation.

If that’s not top-notch knowledge... Ultimately, perfection lies within both UC Davis and Sierra Nevada—’nuf said. If this interests you or someone you know, take down this information:

Media contact(s)

Scott Kolbe, Sierra Nevada Brewing, 530-893-3520,

Pat Bailey, UC Davis News and Media Relations, 530-219-9640,

Charlie Bamforth, UC Davis Department of Food Science and Technology, 530-752-9476,



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