Joe Williams has been teaching for UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education for three years. As the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company Endowed Brewer at UC Davis, he provides practical brewing experiences for students, along with hands-on training and theoretical education. He also serves as a liaison to the brewing industry for UC Davis.
This spring Williams will be taking over for Charlie Bamforth as the instructor of Introduction to Practical Brewing. “Joe has been a key player in the course for quite a while, and now he will step into my shoes as the key presenter of the information in the classroom,” said Bamforth. “He is a superb brewer, but also he has a great understanding of the science and technology that underpin malting and brewing. The students will be in great hands.”
We sat down with Williams to talk about what he brings to the classroom as an instructor.
Why are you passionate about brewing?
I like brewing because I enjoy making things with my hands that make other people smile. The only thing I’ve found more enjoyable is enabling others to do the same.
How would you describe your teaching style?
We all learn in different ways, and I think it relates to our experiences. What I like to do is find out what topic the students are confident in and use a lot of analogies to hopefully relate it to the topic at hand.
What do you want students to take away from your courses?
I want them to take away a curiosity about beer that they didn’t have before. We all go into courses with questions, that is what drew us to the course. It may be just a desire to learn more about brewing or it may be a specific nagging question that has arisen. I want to answer those questions, but I also want people to be inspired by beer and all that it is.
Why is it important for students to understand the science behind brewing?
You really don’t need to know all of the science to work in a brewery or to make beer when everything is going as planned. The education comes in when things don’t. Understanding the science of what is going on allows you to think through the problem and identify possible corrective measures that are based on knowledge, not folklore.