Homebrewing is so popular that the Badger Brewing Association, the UW-Madison club devoted to the topic, attracts several hundred students a year, according to faculty adviser Jim Steele. It's an impressive number, since the club can't even brew beer, due to the participation of underage students.
Steele is a professor of food science who studies fermentation and is helping to establish a fermentation sciences program. He describes the association as "a neat collection of students" who are very interested in the science of brewing, as well as the business.
"We've had meetings where better known brewmasters like Dan Carey of New Glarus Brewing and Kirby Nelson of Wisconsin Brewing Company have come to speak," says Steele. Other topics have been focused on the science of making beer, like avoiding contaminations or infections in a homebrew.
Currently the group is collaborating with Wisconsin Brewing Company on a beer, helping with everything from developing the recipe to the marketing of the product.
Steele praises the passion of the students who are involved in the association. "You expect a mindset of 19-, 20-, 21-year-old kids, and you think, 'Oh no, this is going to be a disaster,' but the quality of these students is remarkable."