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In February, three students taking an MSc in Brewing Science and Practice at The University of Nottingham got the opportunity to brew and market their own beer as part of their project dissertation.

(l-r  back) The Canalhouse’s Amy Millinship, Dr David Quain and Castle Rock’s Lewis Townsend.  (front) the three MSc students, Will Gelder, Stefano Occhi and William Brennand. 

In February, three students taking an MSc in Brewing Science and Practice at The University of Nottingham got the opportunity to brew and market their own beer as part of their project dissertation. Their task – to produce a 3,000 litre commercial batch of beer.  As this amount would have created taxation issues if brewed at the University of Nottingham Sutton Bonington, the students sought our help at Castle Rock brewery, where they have now made the beer.

The postgraduate team behind the new German-style ‘Altbier’ are Stefano Occhi, responsible for PR, quality and timeline management; Will Brennand, brewer; and Will Gelder, sales and marketing.

Now their work is done and the beer, ‘Alternate Universe’, was officially launched at 7.30pm on Tuesday 12 July at the Canalhouse pub in Nottingham before going on sale in Castle Rock pubs and selected bottle shops.

Stefano, who has a passion for brewing and dreams of running his own brewery one day, says: “Of course, this is a dissertation project so it had to be scientific but the project also involved marketing research, sensory analysis and product development. It was also very practical because the final production had to be on a commercial scale.

“Our objective was to produce a craft beer that wasn’t too strong but reflected the old style German beers which are beginning to flourish once again. We think we’ve come up with just the right balance of flavours. ‘Alternate Universe’ is a pleasantly drinkable beer, well balanced with a malty, roasted caramel flavour which should have wide appeal,” he says.

The project – now named zerogravity brewing – was introduced by Dr David Quain who brought the idea with him from Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh where, not surprisingly, it increased in popularity year after year.

Our managing director Colin Wilde says he and his brewing colleagues welcomed the students with open arms.  “I hope the opportunity they’ve had to brew on a full commercial scale like this will hold them in good stead for whatever their future holds; whether that be in brewing or in any other career that involves the complexities of product development, manufacturing, and marketing. All of us here raise a toast to their success in the hope they stick with brewing, one of the world’s oldest and certainly most rewarding industries,” he says.