July 13, 2016, by Lindsay Brooke

Master’s students brew and launch their own beer in the name of academic research

In February this year three students taking an MSc in Brewing Science and Practice at The University of Nottingham, got the opportunity to brew and market their own beer with Castle Rock brewery as part of their project dissertation. Last night saw the official launch of Alternate Universe – described by the team as a pleasantly drinkable beer!

The post graduate team behind the new German-style ‘Alt’ beer are Stefano Occhi, responsible for PR, Quality and Timeline management; Will Brennand – Lead Brewer; and Will Gelder – Sales and Marketing.

The task

Their task was to produce a 3,000 litre commercial batch of beer for sale.

University state-of-the-art brewing facilities 

The team used the University’s state-of-the-art brewing facilities, which include a microbrewery and the SAB Miller pilot plant.


Stefano, who has a passion for brewing and dreams of running his own brewery one day, said: “Of course, this is a dissertation project so it had to be scientific but the project also involved marketing research, sensory analysis and product development. It was also very practical because the final production had to be on a commercial scale. Our objective was to produce a craft beer that wasn’t too strong but reflected the old style German beers which are beginning to flourish once again. We think we’ve come up with just the right balance of flavours. ‘Alternate Universe’ is a pleasantly drinkable beer, well balanced with a malty, roasted caramel flavour which should have wide appeal.”

 The project

The project – ‘Zerogravity Brewing’ – was introduced by Dr David Quain who brought the idea with him from Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh where, not surprisingly, the project increased in popularity year after year.


Professor Quain, said: “When I moved to Nottingham I thought it would be a great idea to introduce the concept as part of our one year MSc course.  It’s a high profile project where ‘failure is not an option.’  It’s a wonderful learning experience for the students who get to work as a team and deliver a beer to market.  From experience the project is a ‘win win’ that benefits the students employability but also is good news for Castle Rock, the International Centre for Brewing Science and, wider still, the University of Nottingham.”


Castle Rock Brewery’s managing director Colin Wilde and his brewing colleagues welcomed the students with open arms.  He said: “I hope the opportunity they’ve had to brew on a full commercial scale like this will hold them in good stead for whatever their future holds; whether that be in brewing or in any other career that involves the complexities of product development, manufacturing, and marketing. All of us here raise a toast to their success in the hope they stick with brewing, one of the world’s oldest and certainly most rewarding industries.”

 You can hear more about the project via this BeerSmith Podcast.

A one-year on campus postgraduate course and a part-time three/four year distance learning programme are run by the The International Centre for Brewing Science (ICBS), in the School of Biosciences at Sutton Bonington. The multi-disciplinary approach of the ICBS is focused on brewing raw materials, yeast, fermentation, sensory science, innovation and draught beer quality.

Stefano said: “We are delighted to launch ‘Alternate Universe,’ in collaboration with our friends at Castle Rock Brewery in Nottingham. We would also like to thank Nottingham based graphic designer Cristiano Ferrari for designing the new logo.”

‘Alternate Universe’ was officially launched at 7.30pm last night at the Canalhouse pub in Nottingham. It is now available from Castle Rock pubs and selected bottle shops.

The launch:

Twitter: Keep up with developments @zerogravitybrew

Posted in BiosciencesEventsResearch newsScienceStaff