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Cheers to Class Work!

As a student, Michael Sutherland, BS Community Health ’15, was interested in the science of food and wanted to be a dietitian, but a class he took with the College of Health and Human Services [1] set him on a different path.

“I started applying around to all of the breweries in the area because I remembered how much I had enjoyed the class,” says Sutherland, who is now the head brewer of New District Brewing Company.

Mason senior Madalyn Grutzius inspects the color of a beer before sampling it during NUTR 430, Introduction to Wine and Beer. Photo by Lathan Goumas

NUTR 430/530 Introduction to Wine and Beer [2] has one of the longest waiting lists at the university. The class aims to help students understand how wine and beer influence cultures and people’s relationship with alcohol and food. Students learn how to taste both wine and beer, the major classifications of each, how they are made, their history, connections with politics, and even their health effects.

“I’ve had a lot of business and economics majors,” says Kerri LaCharite, the assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies [3] who teaches the class. “They see this being helpful for advancing their careers.”

A lot of information is covered in the class, but the material is perfectly paired with experimental projects, such as wine and beer tastings and a “make your own beer” section. The course even has field trips to local breweries and wineries to learn about the process from start to finish.

Sutherland helps bring brewing to the classroom by returning to campus each semester to teach students about the science of beer making. “I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to know everything about it and become really good at it.”