As Colorado’s craft beer industry continues to flourish, Odell Brewing Co. in Fort Collins and its owners are investing in the state’s future brewers by pouring $100,000 into the Fermentation Science and Technology program at Colorado State University. The gift is expected to be used primarily for equipping the new brewing lab in the former Early Childhood Center in the Gifford Building on campus.
Jeff Callaway, director of industry outreach for the FST program, said this is not the first time the Odells have contributed to CSU’s fermentation education efforts. “They are longtime supporters; this is not new for them,” he said.
Odell involved early
Jack Avens is a professor in CSU’s Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition who has taught beer brewing since it was simply part of a food processing course. He said Doug Odell has been involved with the program since 2003, when he began visiting Avens’ class as a guest speaker. In 2006, Odell started allowing students in the first Brewing Science and Technology class brew on a commercial scale at his brewery. And in 2008, Odell donated the brewing system currently used at CSU.
“After I heard about the course, it just seemed like a natural connection,” Odell said. He has hosted CSU student internships and has hired CSU graduates who completed Avens’ brewing course. Among those who have taken the course and gone on to careers in the craft beer industry is CSU alumna Linsey Cornish, a former Odell employee who is now head brewer at Horse & Dragon Brewing Co. in Fort Collins.
“Thanks for all you’ve done for the Fort Collins community and for this program,” College of Health and Human Sciences Dean Jeff McCubbin told co-owners Corkie, Doug and Wynne Odell at an informal celebration held July 1 at the brewery, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary. “As we are just embarking on our early years of the fermentation science program, I hope we look back in 25 years and see how far we’ve come. I’m confident the program will be thriving, and it will be because of our early and most dedicated partners and supporters, like you.”
“It has been a pleasure to get to know this fantastic group of people, and I am humbled by their generosity and support,” added Michael Pagliassotti, head of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. Each semester the class has been held, the students come up with a creative name for their brew, from “Easy A IPA” to “Study Break IPA,” a 2006 ale that preceded Odell’s rollout of its own IPA. “We did four test brews for our IPA, and I consider Study Break one of them,” Odell recalled.
The $100,000 gift, which is being donated through the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado, is a combined contribution from the brewery and Doug and Wynne Odell. Corkie Odell said it is an effort to support the craft brewing industry as a whole – but she hopes a positive byproduct will be that Odell Brewing hires some well-trained CSU graduates as a result. “We heard that the program needed funds – and those funds won’t magically appear. So we started talking about how we could help out,” Doug Odell said of the donation, lauding the CSU program for “involving industry from the beginning, to find out what they’re looking for in students coming out of the program, and forming this program to what business needs.” Demand for the program has grown significantly; Avens said he turns down 20 to 40 students each semester in the Brewing Science and Technology course. The gift is the second major donation that Fermentation Science and Technology has received this year; in April Anheuser-Busch gave $250,000 to the program.