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Southern Illinois University adds degree in brewing

Southern Illinois University senior Lucas Rose works on a project involving the use of malts for brewing in a laboratory in the Fermentation Science Institute at the university in Carbondale. SIU has a new accredited degree in fermentation science. | Richard Sitler/The Southern Illinoisan, distributed by the Associated Press

CARBONDALE — Southern Illinois University has a new accredited degree in fermentation science to train future brewers, distillers and vintners.

The Illinois Board of Higher Education approved the new Bachelor of Science degree in March, The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan reported. Matt McCarroll, director of the Fermentation Science Institute at the university, says students will start in the major in the summer.

“This has been a lot of work by a lot of people here, and it’s great to see it becoming a reality,” McCarroll said in a news release.

McCarroll said rapid growth in craft brewing has led to demand for fermentation scientists with scientific training and coursework focused on brewing science. Graduates will be able to work at several micro-breweries in the region and along the Shawnee Wine Trail.

“We know this is a growth industry and our students will be well prepared to gain employment in this field,” he said.

According to McCarroll, fermentation science involves chemistry, plant biology, microbiology and agricultural sciences. He said programs similar to the one at Southern Illinois University are concentrated on the West Coast.

The 74,000 square-foot, geo-thermal building called the McLafferty Annex Collaborative Research Facility on the campus’s west side is home to the program. The building is also where the Aquatic Research Laboratory and Saluki Aquarium are located.