Faculty Spotlight: Charles Bamforth

Dr. Charles Bamforth, professor of brewing science at UC Davis, explains that he and his colleagues have the “best possible brewing technology for teaching.” In gleaming stainless steal, the brewery where his students experiment “is a scaled down version of a full-scale commercial brewery, capable of making great beer (though we don’t sell it or consume it).”


To help students “learn the complexities of brewing and understand how to design beers of all different types,” there are sensors all over the brewery that detect things like temperature, volume, and the strength of the sugar solution. “These sensors,” Bamforth says, “then feed into a computer system that displays how much liquid is in each vessel, what the temperature is, what valves are open, and so on. However, I am insistent that the best way to learn is by doing as much as possible manually, so the in-line detector system is just advisory.”


Bamforth also oversees a research laboratory, which contains many instruments, four of which measure the stability of the bubbles on beer. “Three of them depend on optical sensors to detect either the flow of liquid out of the foam or the extent to which the bubbles stick to the side of the glass,” Bamforth explains, “and the fourth instrument uses conductivity to detect the collapse of the head on top of the beer.”

For more information about Bamforth’s research on and teaching of malting and brewing, visit his website.

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