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Intro to Brewing Science

21+ online program

A mini-course in the alchemy of brewing and fermentation


This course is currently full. Please check back for future offerings.

The brewing industry is a dynamic segment of the overall alcohol beverage market and is showing robust growth in Arizona and throughout the nation. Be it the newest craft beer style or rise of hard seltzer, there is continuous innovation coming from the country’s 8,000+ breweries.

Brewing and fermentation science is a deep and complex field that pulls together concepts from biology, chemistry, and engineering. This introductory course provides a look into the fundamentals of beer production, fermentation, brewing microbiology, and beverage sensory best practices.

In this online course, you’ll learn from four experienced lecturers—one with nearly a decade of professional brewing experience, two with a combined twenty years in microbiological research and teaching, and one with research experience in terpenes and other hop derived metabolites. A combination of self-paced material; interactive tastings and trainings; and online lectures and discussions will allow students the flexibility to review the material at their convenience while still regularly interfacing with the instructors.

The material is geared towards those interested in taking the steps towards a brewing career or beer-focused hospitality or advanced homebrewers looking to increase their knowledge of their chosen hobby.

After completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Describe the primary ingredients in brewing—malted barley, hops, yeast, water, and adjuncts—and their roles in the brewing process
  • Define the key steps of the brewing process from raw material intake to final packaging
  • Describe the overall process of yeast driven fermentation while demonstrating an understanding of the key variables involved and the flavor outcomes
  • Describe basic brewing quality and laboratory tasks: microscopy, aseptic sampling techniques; and raw material analysis by viewing how-to videos by our instructors and other industry groups
  • Identify common beer spoilage organisms and learn to develop plans for prevention and/or eradication
  • Describe the key pieces of brewing equipment, their function, and engineering considerations
  • Analyze the physical properties of beer – appearance, aroma, flavor, and mouthfeel – through guided tastings.
  • Identify common beer off-flavors through interactive training sessions.
  • Define the key components of draught beer systems; work through design consideration; and understand the importance of cleaning to promote the microbial stability of draught beer.

A very special thanks to Crosby Hop Farm and Malteurop for providing sample hops/materials for the students in this course.

Students must be 21+ years old to take this course.

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July 6th – August 9, 2020

This course is a hybrid course blending live instruction as well as independent learning materials. Live discussions will take place on the following dates and times:

Wednesdays from 6pm-7pm (7/8, 7/15, 7/22, 7/29, 8/5)

Sundays from 3pm-4pm. (7/12, 7/19, 7/26, 8/2, 8/9)


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NAU is offering this non-credit course for $190.

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  • A package of materials for hands on laboratory and sensory exercises will be supplied to students (either via mail or pickup). Students will be required to purchase beer and other materials for the tasting and off-flavor training components.
  • Internet access and a computer, laptop or tablet with a functional webcam is needed to complete course assignments and live stream activities.

Required texts:

  • Handbook of Brewing – 3rd edition. Stewart, G; Russel, I; Anstruther, A. Available free as a PDF (in the course readings folder) or students can purchase a hard copy.
  • Draught Beer Quality Manual. Brewers Association. Available free as a PDF (in the course readings folder)or students can purchase a hard copy. Use coupon code NAU2020 for a $9.95 copy of the DBQM.

Recommended Texts:

Available through Brewers Publications. These are great long-term resources.

  • Brewing Elements Series – Hops, Malt, Yeast, Water:
    • For the Love of Hops: The Practical Guide to Aroma, Bitterness and the Culture of Hops by Stan Hieronymus.
    • Malt: A Practical Guide from Fieldhouse to Brewhouse by John Mallett
    • Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers by John Palmer and Colin Kaminsky
    • Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation by Chris White and Jamil Zainasheff
  • How to Brew: Everything You Need to Know to Brew Great Beer Every Time. John Palmer. (Great for those looking to get into or expand their homebrewing knowledge).


A very special thanks to Crosby Hop Farm and Malteurop for providing sample hops/materials for the students in this course.

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Campbell Morrissy, MSc.

Campbell has been a professional brewer and distiller for nearly ten years working in facilities ranging in size from 2,000 – 50,000 beer barrels per year. Since 2019 he has taught beer and brewing coursework at NAU. In 2013, he received his MSc in Brewing and Distilling from Heriot-Watt University. Currently he is pursuing a PhD at Oregon State University in the Barley Project lab, working on flavor and processing outcomes in barley for the brewing and distilling industries.

Dr. David John

David is the lab manager for microbiology teaching labs at Northern Arizona University. He has also been a lecturer in the Biological Sciences department. David came to NAU from the University of South Florida St Petersburg, where he helped initiate and managed a program to place biology students in breweries as lab interns. He also teaches the microbiology module for the online Brewing Arts certificate affiliated with that school. David has been teaching microbiology and genetics courses for over 9 years.

Dr. Emily Cope

Emily Cope is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and Assistant Director of the Center for Applied Microbiome Sciences at the Pathogen and Microbiome Institute at NAU. She earned her PhD in microbiology from NAU in 2012 and joined NAU as faculty in August 2016 after completing her postdoctoral research at the University of California San Francisco where she studied the human airway microbiome. Her interests are all things microbiome-related, including the fermentation sciences.

Dr. Andy Koppisch

Andy is an Associate Professor in the Chemistry department at Northern Arizona University and has taught coursework in Biochemistry for 10 years. He maintains ongoing research projects in his laboratory on the biochemistry of terpene metabolites, such as those commonly associated with hops.  In collaboration with the local craft beer industry, his work has also focused on chemical strategies to eliminate microbial contamination in breweries.

This course is currently full. Please check back for future offerings.

For questions pertaining to the content of this course, please contact David John.

For all other questions, please contact NAU Online by phone or email.