Colorado is touted as the State of Craft Beer, but it is the cider game that brought Dr. Callie Cole into the ferm-ament.
With a Ph.D. background in gas phase astrochemistry, inquiries about how those skills could be applied to choosing apple varieties and timing hop additions to fine-tune the aroma of cider has given her a nom de pomme with features on the cover of Beverages in 2020 and white papers in the Journal of the American Society for Brewing Chemists and Applied Sciences. Dr. Cole’s studies of reaction rate constants between ion and neutral molecules in the interstellar medium utilize a lot of the same instrumentation as fermentation science.
Fermentation science is an excellent opportunity for her students at Fort Lewis College to explore research and experience a practical outcome. Although the field is millennia old, Dr. Cole sees how using modern technology, gas and liquid chromatography and mass spectroscopy, can be used to explore ingredients and the resulting organoleptic characteristics. Quantifying analytes of various volatility can assist in detecting off-flavors and aromas, an important aspect for fine-tuning production techniques. The work of undergraduate students in this realm was done in collaboration with Ska Brewing of Durango, CO, and published in the journal Molecules.
An apple a day won’t keep this doctor away from pursuing further studies! Dr. Cole has leveraged moments of doubt to push and “do it scared.” Hop biotransformation is on the horizon next, along with the biochemical reactions when yeast has the opportunity to interact, combining analytical chemistry with biochemistry and molecular biology. Can’t wait to see what knowledge shakes out from this tree!