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Jackie O’s logo tower at the Taproom and Brewer on 25 Campbell St., Athens, Ohio, Mar. 27, 2023.

OU's craft beer class brews brilliance

Drinking beer for class sounds like a typical college student’s dream. At Ohio University that dream has become a fun reality for students in The Art of Craft Brewing: An Athens Case Study class, which teaches the business and chemistry of beer production. 

The class is open to students over 21 no matter the major, and meets at different brewery locations or the classroom each week.

SakOUra Sunset Photo-5.jpg
Provided by Jackie O's Brewery

“We spent a lot of time in breweries,” Emily Thielen, a senior studying communications, said. “We’ve gone to both Jackie O’s here on campus and got full tours of the facilities. We’ve also gone to Cider House and got a tour there as well.” 

The semester starts with learning the basic science, business and facilities that go into creating a craft beer. After learning the basics, the class starts on a big project: creating their own signature craft beer. 

To learn the properties of brewing craft beer, the class recently completed a "off flavors” taste test where they learned what makes beer taste bad. 

“There’s certain elements in the brewing process that can go wrong and give you off flavors, we were taste testing for those,” Theilen said. “It was really fun.”

Art Oestrike, the professor of the class and owner of Jackie O’s Brewery, said there are a few main components to the project. 

“There is (a group who does) the actual science of the beer and the development of a beer that we came up with together,” Oestrike said. “There’s another group that’s behind the marketing and design of the product. There’s another group … that works on how to market toward people in their early 20s and then there’s the people who are focusing on the event to launch this beer.” 

Oestrike has taught off-and-on at OU for about 20 years. He started teaching the class with his friend as an adjunct professor and continued the course due to support. Oestrike said as an entrepreneur and professor, the class molds his hobby and career into one, and teaching this class is “pretty awesome.”  

The class-crafted beer this semester is named “SakOUra Sunset” and features tastes of cherry, apricot and peach. It will make its debut Thursday right before Mom's Weekend kicks off. 

SakOUra Sunset Photo-6.jpg
Provided by Jackie O's Brewery

SakOUra Sunset Photo-4.jpg
Provided by Jackie O's Brewery

The process of brewing the beer, however, began a few weeks ago. Jonah Brautigam, a senior studying electrical engineering, was present for the brewing day the class had at Jackie O’s Brewery and broke down the process. 

“We took about 500 pounds of fresh rolled barley and wheat and put it into a simmering tank of water,“ Brautigam said. "We let that sit and pull all the sugars out of it. Then, once we knew all the sugars were out, we moved all that sugar water, called wort, to a kettle where we boiled it … Once that was boiling, we started adding hops and different stuff to it to add flavor … We cooked it for about an hour.”

Despite the lengthy process, all the hard work from the class created a final result everyone can share.

“Since we are making a fruit wheat ale, we brought it down to 50 degrees and then put it in the fermentation tank, where the yeast is added,” Brautigam said. “We had to wait about a day for the wort to fully ferment.” 

When the brewing process seems like it’s over, it’s time to add some flavor. After allowing the yeast to do its job, Brautigam said they went back to add the fruit. 

“We took the fruit puree and put that into the tank and it basically fermented again,” Brautigam said. “Then, we have to wait another week to make sure the fermentation is right, then we dump it and put it into a cooling tank.” 

The launch party for the class’s SakOUra Sunset craft beer debuts at Jackie O’s Uptown Brewpub, located at 24 W. Union St., Thursday starting at 7:30 p.m. The class encourages students of age and staff to come and enjoy their beer. 


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