Beer and People: The Chemistry We All Want To Learn About

Originally published on February 1, 2019 in The Holcad Student Newspaper.

On February 7 from 7:00-8:00 p.m., the second Titan Talk of the semester will be held at the Hop Asylum Brewery on 138 South Market Street. Dr. Pete Smith and Dr. Sherri Pataki are the guest speakers for the night, and their sessions will discuss the chemistry of beer and people, respectively.

Dr. Pete Smith is not only a professor of chemistry here at Westminster, but also a guest/assistant brewer for the Hop Asylum. Smith is an avid homebrewer, so when the owner of Hop Asylum asked him to collaborate on a craft beer recipe, Smith happily agreed. A red IPA named “Chemical Imbalance” was born out of this collaboration, and now Smith will be able to share the science behind the craft brewing process right at the source.

When asked about his decision to participate in the Titan Talks program, Smith explained that he likes talking about chemistry with general audiences because he senses a generalized fear of chemistry and chemicals among the public. “I like to take any opportunity I can to talk to the general public about chemistry and put it in a good light,” Smith said.

There are two main things that Smith wants to accomplish in his session. First, he wants to help people understand that chemistry and chemicals are not things to be afraid of. Second, he’d like to open up the conversation about how people can make informed decisions about what they are eating, largely by questioning what products are made of and how they are made.

During his session Smith plans to discuss the four main ingredients of beer and how they are utilized. He will also talk about the process of making craft beer and the two main camps of beer drinkers. “I’m excited to be able to share my passion for craft brewing with a really broad audience, and in a brewery, no less!” said Smith.

Dr. Sherri Pataki, associate professor of psychology, will present a session on the chemistry of people. She will explore the science behind relationships and talk about how you can make the connections with your loved ones even stronger.

Titan Talks are just as much for alumni as they are for current students. Smith explains that, “it’s important for students to network with alumni at these events because so much of what your future career depends upon are the people you know, as much as the information you have learned. These events are getting students to interact with alumni, which is always beneficial for everyone.” Smith also discussed how the Titan Talks are a great opportunity for students to see professionals talking about their field of expertise outside of a classroom setting. “The more students can engage with professionalism outside of the class, the better prepared they will be for their future careers,” he said.

Reservations for the upcoming Titan Talks are due by February 1. These sessions are sure to be entertaining and educational, so make sure to grab your spot while you still can!

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