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Science brings beer to COSI

Kenny Greer / The Lantern

More than 200 people gathered at Columbus’ Center of Science and Industry Thursday night to watch local beer enthusiasts present their personal takes on the process of brewing beer.

Kyle Bullock, a 2002 Ohio State graduate, brought a pale ale. Sean Dawson, a 1999 OSU graduate provided an amber ale, while Victor Gonzalez showed off his cherry pale ale and Frank Barickman presented a chocolate vanilla oat stout. Phil Siewert diverged from the others, bringing in a hop-less lemon wheat beer.

Each of these men is a member of Scioto, Olentangy and Darby Zymurgists, a home brewing club for people in the Columbus area.

“SODZ is all about promoting home brewing and creating a social environment for the exchange of ideas,” said Gonzalez, the club’s president.

The club meets once a month in various locations throughout Columbus and includes members who compete in competitions put on by the American Homebrewers Association.

Brew Science was not a competition, but pride was certainly at stake as eight SODZ members put their creations on display to be judged by the crowd. The brewers set up stations that displayed the beer they were serving and the creation process.

Each person had his own story as to how he became involved in home brewing. A common theme among them was an appreciation for beer that developed in college.

“I drank a lot of beer in college, but nothing good,” Bullock said.
He first became interested in home brewing when he used a Mr. Beer home brewing kit, he said.

“It’s addictive,” he said. “I found the whole process very fun.”
For Bullock, brewing a six-gallon batch of beer typically takes about six hours. He then lets the beer ferment for two weeks before either bottling it or putting it in a keg.

Bullock put his beer in bottles for the competition, but Dawson decided to use a keg.

“I prefer kegs over bottles because they’re easier to use and don’t take as long,” Dawson said.

Dawson has been brewing his own beer for five years, ever since his wife got him a kit. He brought a pale ale and an amber ale to the competition and was the only person with multiple brews. “I enjoy coming to events like this because I get to find out what people think of my beer,” Dawson said.

The crowd gathered in the auditorium after being treated to a round of beer and hors d’oeuvres to hear presentations on the subject of beer and home brewing.

“Tonight we are not only drinking to beer, but to human ingenuity,” said Matt Umland, a COSI scientist, in his presentation on the history of beer. “Beer is one of the foundations of human civilization.”

The crowd toasted Umland’s speech but was clearly eager to taste the concoctions stirred up for them by the home brewers. After presentations, they were given the opportunity to sample and judge each of the beers brought to the competition. People went from station to station where the brewers served their beer. They were able to ask the brewers questions about what they were drinking and were given insight into the process of creating different flavors.

In the end, the award for best beer in show was given to Gonzalez for his cherry pale ale. The two OSU graduates, Bullock and Dawson, earned third and fourth place respectively. 

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