Fermentation Science Institute students at SIU help create new ale beer

A new ale beer just hit the market and it’s brewed by some local college students here in the Heartland.
Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 8:31 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 11, 2023 at 10:42 PM CDT
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CARBONDALE, Ill. (KFVS) - A new ale beer just hit the market and it’s brewed by some local college students here in the Heartland.

“When the project got announced in December, it was like, oh my God, we have a chance to actually brew something and have it go out to the public, that’s a huge deal,” said SIU Fermentation Science Institute senior James Benefiel.

Several months later, the project became a reality. After seven different prototypes, students at the SIU Fermentation Institute in Carbondale, Illinois settled on a cream ale-style beer.

SIU Fermentation Science Institute and Ravinia Brewing Company in Chicago partnered to create the new beer called King Ale.

“It was a lot of trial and error, but you know the bright side is, trial and error in the beer business means you get to drink a lot of beer,” Benefiel said.

One junior in the program didn’t expect to be on a student-led brew.

“And then once I’ve been here and meeting everyone who’s older than me and has more experience, they’ve been very helpful to give me all the information along the way,” said SIU Fermentation Science Institute junior Rachel Bernier. “And now we have a beer that’s represents our school.”

Multiple students over spring break at the university had an opportunity to travel to Chicago to assist the Ravinia Brewing Company in brewing the beer.

When the students tasted the final prototype, they knew it was the one.

“When I tried the one that we actually went with, I was actually able to distinguish the honey malt that we decided to use,” said SIU Fermentation Science Institute junior Sam Hanson. “And that was one of the first batches and prototypes that we had made that was there--and it was that complexity that we were looking for.”

And students in the Fermentation Institute said this is a major step for taking the program to a new level.

“It’s a huge opportunity for us as students, the program, the school and it’s just knowing that the success that it’s going to bring on so many levels is just really exciting,” said Benefiel.

According to leaders at SIU, King Ale will soon be available in the Chicagoland and southern Ill. markets.

SIU’s University Communications and Marketing led cooperative work on the beer’s label and branding, and Fermentation Science Institute leaders said while the initial batches of King Ale will be produced at Ravinia’s facility in Highland Park, the plan is to shift production to the campus once a full-scale production facility is ready.

The proceeds from the beer sales are split evenly between Ravinia and the Fermentation Science Institute, which the institute will use to expand the facilities and support a bachelor’s degree in fermentation science.

More information about this product can be found here.