The Open University offers new course on alcohol science

Oxfordshire brewery Hook Norton and the Cotswolds Distillery have teamed up with The Open University on a new online course focusing on the science of alcohol.

The online course is free and available to everyone, and consists of 24 hours of study time spread across eight weeks. Participants can sign up for free downloadable badges for proof of course completion.

The course starts by discussing how alcohol is produced and how different drinks are manufactured and analysed. It will also look into the history for alcohol production and will allow participants the chance to make their own drinks with an optional home-brew experiment.

It will then go on to introduce the brewing process before discussing brewing on an industrial scale. It will also discuss taste and aroma perception, the short-term and long-term effects of alcohol, the distillation process and spirits. Finally it will explore product protection and maintaining product provenance, highlighting the technology used to stop counterfeiting and contamination.

The course will also involve weekly interactive quizzes which in week four and week eight, will allow students to earn a badge to demonstrate their achievement.

The university filmed a series of short films for the course at Hook Norton Brewery in June last year with the aid of Chaos Films.

Dr Louise MacBrayne, staff tutor in life, health and chemical sciences and author of the course, said: “Hook Norton made a really valuable contribution, without their input, the course would not have turned out the way it did. They have made it really engaging and allowed us to show the practical application of science. It means course learners can see the perspective of the actual brewery and gain expert opinions and a level of expertise we simply would not have had without them.”

    Alongside Dr MacBrayne, two other academics feature in the course: Dr Daniel Allwood, an organic chemist and keen homebrewer, from Sheffield Hallam University, and Dr Paul Kosmetatos, lecturer in economic history at the University of Edinburgh.

    As well as Hook Norton, the videos were also filmed at the Cotswolds Distillery, while the course was also supported by The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). The course was developed with assistance from Dr Nick Turner, senior lecturer in bioanalytical chemistry in The School of Pharmacy at De Montfort University and visiting fellow at The Open University.

    To find out more information about the course, and to sign-up, please click here.

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