Distillation - Beer with a Scientist
Distillation - Beer with a Scientist

Guests at the next Beer with a Scientist event will hear about the science used in the fermentation and distillation of another adult beverage – whiskey. Kevin Smith, a distillery manager for Brown-Forman Corporation, will discuss how microbiology is used in making whiskey and address the challenges of preserving these skills in an era of advanced technology.

“Fermentation science goes beyond the microbiological aspects related to yeast, lactic bacteria used in the sour mash process and the control of microbial contaminants. Other biological processes we must wrangle are grains, grain quality and the enzyme systems in malted barley, which are critical to breaking starches in grain down to metabolizable sugars,” said Smith, a Louisville native who earned a master’s degree in environmental microbiology from UofL. 

Smith will explain how modern yeast handling practices and industrial equipment for distillery sanitation allow for improved consistency, quality and sensory character of new whiskey. He also will describe how individual yeast strains affect a whiskey’s flavor.

The event begins at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 5, at Against the Grain Brewery, 401 E. Main St. in Louisville. A 30-minute presentation will be followed by an informal Q&A session.

Admission is free. Purchase of beer, other beverages or menu items is not required but is encouraged.

For more information and to suggest future Beer with a Scientist topics, follow Louisville Underground Science on Facebook. Upcoming dates: 

  • May 17 – Gerard Williger of UofL – The coming solar eclipse and mapping asteroids
  • June 14 – Jacquelyn Graven, Graven and Assoc. – How to work less and play more
  • July 12 – Lee Dugatkin of UofL – How to tame a fox and make a dog
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Betty Coffman
Betty Coffman is a Health Communications Specialist, working on the Health Sciences Campus with departments in the School of Medicine. A UofL alumna and Louisville native, she served as a writer and editor for local and national publications and as an account services coordinator and copywriter for marketing and design firms prior to joining UofL’s Office of Marketing and Communications.