Chaplin graduate student talks craft brewing

Alex Blencowe/Staff Writer

Nicole “Kat” Stevens is the teaching assistant for Barry Gump’s beer class, a position she fell into after taking a beverage management class.

For Stevens, creating craft beer and discovering delicious alcohol is the best part of being a Hospitality Management graduate student at the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

“Alcohol was this thing that you did at parties; it was normally really bad beer that was super cheap,” Stevens said.  “I didn’t realize that alcohol could actually be tasty!”

Stevens said alcohol has been around for centuries of human history, and has been an important icon of human civilization, from the ancient Egyptians’ system of beer and bread, to the origins of vodka—which is literally Russian for “water.”

“All these stories that I’ve researched on my own all have these ties to alcohol,” Stevens said.  “Alcohol is huge in Rome, in Italy, in Egypt.”

Stevens visited craft breweries in Boca Raton to learn more about the history of craft beer-making and fell in love with it

“All of a sudden, beer wasn’t just this amber, light liquid that tasted like nothing; it was this rich, in-depth drink,” Stevens said, describing her commitment to beer science when she started to take classes.

“I was getting [to class] early, I was staying late. I was helping everyone do their projects; I was like a little bee hovering everywhere,” Stevens said.

After being offered a teaching assistant-ship, Stevens immediately accepted the challenge.

“I remember the first time I walked into Total Wine, it was like walking into Disney World,” Stevens said. “I really started going to different breweries and seeing what’s out there.”

Stevens said the industry of craft beer is one of the most interesting careers you can be a part of, especially since beer pubs are popping up everywhere.

In Stevens’ opinion, beer-making is more approachable than wine or alcohol, and she has noticed a growth in home-brewers in the industry.

“Beer is one of the more dynamic alcohols that you can produce; there’s so much more you can do with it,” she said.

According to Stevens, working with people in the beer industry is much more laid back and there is a lot less pressure in the industry.

“It’s a little bit easier and the people are different. It’s not this snobby ‘I have to wear a blazer for a tasting’ atmosphere,” Stevens joked.  “It’s all just your down-to-earth kind of people who just want to hang out and have a home-brew.”

The beer industry is great for people who don’t want to sit in a cubicle all day and don’t want the average nine to five experience.

“You’re not restricted by the same rules of other industries—it’s casual Friday every day,” Stevens said.

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