SIU Fermentation Science Institute receives $1.1M grant

Published: Jun. 22, 2021 at 7:34 PM CDT
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CARBONDALE, Ill. (KFVS) - One Heartland university can raise a glass to celebrate the more than $1 million grant it received for a degree program.

Right now, it looks like a bunch of stainless steel vats and pipping inside the McLafferty Annex on the Southern Illinois University campus, but it will lead to students learning how to brew and distill beer and spirits.

The Southern Illinois University Fermentation Science Institute just received a $1.1 million grant to beef up its science degree in fermentation from the SIU Foundation.

The grant will also allow SIU to establish infrastructure for the building.

“We have a project that’s planned, we have other sources of funding that are coming in to complete the whole project and this is really helping us accelerate and move that forward to install equipment that we have on site,” said Director of Fermentation Science Institute Matt McCarroll. “Both for the program and also to help facilitate Ravinia brewing company coming in who will lease some of the space.”

McCarroll is one of the professors teaching future brew masters.

He says the university is collaborating with Ravinia Brewing Company based out of the Chicagoland area.

Ravinia Brewing Company has locations in Highland Park and the Logan Square Neighborhood in Chicago.

“The arrangement there is Ravinia brewing company is looking for a production facility to expand their capacity,” explained McCarroll. “We were looking for a brewery that would place a facility in McLafferty annex so that we would have access of our students to the full production scale equipment and packaging systems that they have.”

Co-owner of Ravinia Brewing Company Kris Walker says they met with SIU about four years ago.

He’s says he’s excited to set up a shop in southern Illinois.

“The benefit that having a working production brewery on site at SIU will have to students and future students, is significant and really it should solidify ferments science institute as being the preeminent place to go to become a, to learn the science and learn the craft,” said Walker.

Walker is hopeful this facility brings beer makers from all over the world.

“We’re hopeful that there’s going to be aspiring brewers from all around the world descending on Carbondale to practice their craft on Ravinia brewing equipment and systems,” said Walker.

The brew lab will allow students to see the process from start to finish.

“Here’s what exciting about it, is well be able to take students from that end of the building in a classroom, walk them down to the other side of the building and look at a full production facility and operation in real time,” said McCarroll

A fermentation degree involves more than just making beer and liquor.

It also involves the production of different foods, cheese and pharmaceuticals.

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