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Good Beer Hunting

Apr 8, 2023

Science has always been intimidating to me. I was never good at memorizing the periodic table or combining an array of chemical compounds to get a desired—and safe—mixture. Despite the challenges that lasted from middle into high school, I still found it all fascinating, the act of testing and discovery and using specialized equipment that can provide meaningful answers to all kinds of questions. And in this episode, we’re talking about it all in relation to beer.

Our guide will be Nicole Oliver, the laboratory operations manager at South Carolina’s Edmund’s Oast Brewing Company. She is an actual scientist and helps to oversee quality control at one of the Palmetto State’s fastest-growing breweries. And it’s not just her ability to help her colleagues create better beer that makes her role fascinating, but the way she’s doing it in an evolving beer market where it’s not just about making sure a Blonde Ale is brewed to perfection. Nicole has to collaborate with brewers to ensure that fruited Sours or pastry-inspired beers taste just as perfect and have the kind of shelf stability that other companies sometimes ignore, packaging beer in cans that may cause the package to swell, grow, and sometimes explode in a puree mess.

If your favorite brewery cares about its beer, it should have a quality control program. Not every business has the financial ability to have a full-time scientist to lead the work, but it’s pivotal work that improves everything about the brewing process. And as you’ll hear from Nicole, it can be nerdy and fun and exhilarating and meaningful. For her, her colleagues, and drinkers.