Last year we had a terrific brewery intern, Acacia Baldner, who’s aiming to become a professional brewer. Standing Stone Brewing Co regulars may remember the well-received Butternut Brown Ale she brewed for our specialty beer series.
Since then, Acacia completed a senior research project about beer chemistry at Southern Oregon University (SOU), was accepted into the UC Davis Extension Master Brewers Program, graduated from SOU and earned a spot to present her research at a conference. She also landed a summer internship at Snake River Brewing (Jackson, WY) and snagged a spot in a great article on up and coming brewers in the New Brewer.
We caught up with Acacia to find out about her latest endeavors, research findings, next steps and advice for other aspiring brewers.
What are you doing at Snake River Brewing?
I’m working as a brewery intern, learning everything from the day-to-day brewing processes to bottling and canning. Its a bigger brew house than Standing Stone and it’s a little more automated, so I’m learning some exciting processes that I haven’t had much experience with before.
How would you summarize your senior research?
I worked with Larry (Standing Stone brewmaster) to research how beer flavor is affected by shortening the maturation period that occurs just prior to transferring the beer to a serving tank. This involved extracting flavor compounds and determining their identities and concentrations in the beer. I found that a shorter maturation period may actually improve flavor, though more research is required to substantiate this conclusion. Though this research didn’t yield a definite conclusion, it was highly rewarding to work with Larry and the chemistry department at SOU, and couple two of my passions: science and beer.
What will you be doing in the UC Davis Extension Master Brewers Program?
I’ll acquire an in-depth education in the science and engineering of brewing and the brewhouse, including malting, mashing, fermentation, fluid flow and mass transfer. I’ll begin the 18-week program in January 2012. Till then, I hope to become a certified Cicerone, the beer-world equivalent of a sommelier.
What’s your advice for aspiring brewers who want to break into the industry?
My advice to anyone who’s serious about becoming a brewer is to do some homebrewing, and get passionate about beer, its chemistry, biology, art and craft. Also, get involved with local breweries and experience the industrial side of brewing. It’s been my experience that Northwest brewers care about their communities, and welcome and embrace involvement from local brewing hopefuls. I think it’s just part of the microbrewing community that good beer, and the people who make it, need to be shared, celebrated, talked about and enjoyed.
What’s you favorite beer you’ve made, and what do you like to pair it with?
It would probably be the Butternut Brown I brewed at Standing Stone because it was flavorful and rich yet not overwhelming to the palate. My favorite things to pair it with were candied walnuts and sweet pears, though a nice pork chop would also complement it very nicely.
Thanks, Acacia. Keep up the great work. We look forward to watching—and imbibing—what you brew up next!