SARASOTA -- Teaming up with owners and beermakers from five local breweries, students at University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee got a crash course in the science of beer making and how the small businesses navigate the growing market.
On Thursday, students were able to strut their stuff, showing off their creations made with the local brewers and pairing those concoctions with food from the schools' culinary lab, as the local brewers discussed challenges of breaking into the market, controlled expansion of the business, and how the imagination process works.
One recipe showed so much promise, a company plans to create a commercial product aimed at high-dollar beer drinkers.
The recipe, which could cost about $200 a bottle, might be the world's most expensive, but that doesn't mean it won't sell.
The pricey brew created during a science-of-beer class was the brainchild of senior Dennis Metz, who with fellow students Alexis Brodil and Charlotte Bertha, used white truffles to make a German Kölsch-style beer.
The students said more than $10,000 worth of truffles donated by New York-based Urbani Truffles USA was used in creating the batch. Based on cost, the bottles would go for more than $200 each if sold retail, they said. Metz, who developed the idea and contacted Urbani, said the beer contained shaved white truffles, though he wouldn't say how much and when the pricey Italian mushrooms were introduced during the three- to four-week brewing-fermentation process.
"I can tell you this beer was made in three stages," he said.
The result is a delicate but
distinctive truffle flavor.
Urbani, satisfied by the experiment, said it plans to move forward with a commercial product aimed at wealthy New Yorkers. Sabrina Notarnicola, brand strategist at the specialty import company, flew down for the tasting and said Urbani tried making a truffle-infused beer a year ago but was unsuccessful.
She wasn't disappointed this time and hinted at a possible partnership with Metz. The brew was paired with short ribs and polenta and took first place during the food-beer pairing tasting event.
"I could also see this in Miami," she said. "It all comes down to marketing. People will definitely buy it."
While the trio had great success, the introduction to beer science class is designed to give students a hands-on, inside look at the science of making beer. The in-depth course broke down beer making to an exact science, bringing a new layer of interest to the class, said 38-year-old Edgar Bischoff, a biology student from Bradenton enrolled in the class.
"For me, personally, I learned a lot more, I absorbed more. It's more empowering," Bischoff said of the class' approach.
One of the interesting components to the beer science class, Bischoff said, was learning about how the different temperatures affect the process.
"It's all, in part, controlled by how these brewers manipulate the temperatures," he said.
As part of the class, the students toured five local breweries: Big Top Brewery in Sarasota, Darwin Brewing Co. in Bradenton, Green Bench Brewing Co. and Avid Brew Co. in St. Petersburg, and Tampa's Cigar City Brewing.
Bischoff was on a team of students who worked to create a Spicy Citrus Saison beer. Other beers created by students included Dark Horse, Probably Pineapple, Cyco Blonde, Chocolate Thunder From Down Under, Honey Melon Black Pepper Saison, Get Gingy With It and Beautiful Blue-Eyed Blonde. Each beer was paired with a special dish.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.