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Local Breweries Build Drinkers' Knowledge At St. Louis Science Center

Urban Chestnut Brewmaster and co-founder Florian Kuplent, 40.
Willis Ryder Arnold/St. Louis Public Radio

You might think most brewers start making beer because of the taste, and while that’s true, two local brewers were equally charmed by the science behind making beer. Urban Chestnut co-founder and Brewmaster Florian Kuplent said scientific analysis makes a better beer.

“We do a lot of chemical analysis, we analyze the bitterness, we look at yeast cell count, we look at PH (so, acidity of the beer) we look at how much alcohol is in the beer, how much sugar, kind of a portfolio of standard tests we do for every batch,” said Kuplent.

This Saturday, the Science Center of St. Louis is holding Science on Tap an event showcasing more than 20 local craft and major breweries and the science behind their art. The event is part of the Science Center’s push to engage more adult interest in its programming. This social event with a science twist will feature demonstrations developed to highlight different chemical and physical properties of the beverage as well as tastings.

“The most important thing about the night is that we want to get people hands on and engaged in the science of the beer,” said the senior educator for engineering and technology, Andrew McGarrahan, 30.

He helped put together all the demonstrations available throughout the museum. Those include:

  • “Float Trip Tips,” which examines alcohol content’s relation to the density of specific beers.
  • An experiment exploring glass color and how glass protects the ecosystem of bottled beer from spoilage.
  • A game titled “Drunk Goggles” that explores altered perception.

Director of Operations at Square One Brewery and Distillery Dr. John Witte, 48, is excited to bring his adult endeavors to a favorite childhood location.

Director of Operations at Square One Brewery and Distillery Dr. John Witte, 48.
Credit Willis Ryder Arnold/St. Louis Public Radio
Director of Operations at Square One Brewery and Distillery Dr. John Witte, 48.

“I’m on the quirky weird side where science was always that nerdy hobby I had and the Science Center was always a cool and fascinating place to go,” said Witte.

Witte once practiced as a veterinarian and, like Kuplent was attracted to brewing through the science that will be displayed at Saturday’s event. He started home brewing while attending veterinary school and left that practice to brew full time in 1994 at Trailhead brewery in St. Charles. Witte said his attraction to the intersection of science and beer was apparent early on, especially among those close to him.

“I think my mom really summed it up when she walked into Trailhead for the very first time and she saw the layout of the brewery and all the stainless (steel) tanks and she said ‘it’s the chemistry set you’ve always wanted,’” said Witte.

The event runs from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. and features live music by Trixie Delight Acoustic and The Jeremiah Johnson Band. Tickets are $50 and are available online.

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