Not very many American universities have the ability to brew fresh beer, but Florida International University's brewing science laboratory officially opens today, according to student home-brewing club B.R E.W FIU.
This comes two years after the initial announcement, which followed the South Beach Wine & Food Festival in 2012.
The grand opening of the new facility was marked by an exclusive, invite-only event at the school's new restaurant management lab. Local brewers and beer aficionados gathered there. Garret Oliver, the founder of Brooklyn Brewery, made a special appearance last night and signed copies of his new book, The Brewmaster's Table.
The lab will be used for industry research and includes: a one barrel, a one-half barrel and a one-sixth barrel fermentation systems; two systems with a one-barrel output and one system with a one-third of a barrel output; and a 10 gallon gravity-fed system.
Update: The general public will not be able to purchase beer from the lab as it will be used for research purposes only.
An 80" touch screen, fully-interactive television with webcam is also included to teach classes anywhere in the world.
Only a handful of universities in the United States have such a facility. FIU's is the only one in the state of Florida. The new lab is located at the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at the Biscayne Campus in North Miami.
The new lab is still mainly for the club and is used for some class projects, but will be run like a production area for research and development, according to club member Matt Weintraub.
At first, support from university officials was hard to come by, Matt says, because of the stigma of college binge drinking. However, over the years, the club has done its best to improve beer;s reputation. "Getting the support was really difficult. There are students out there who are not interested in the alcohol, but the just complexity in making beer," Weintraub said.
With the new facility, Weintraub will now focus on brewing research and possibly using it for collaborations between local brewing companies.
Additionally, Weintraub is seeking to hold the annual Florida Brewer's Guild event at the new lab.