Penn Students Figure Out How to Slash the Time Needed to Brew Beer

By Mike Pomranz |

© George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images

Brewing high-quality beer takes time. That statement feels like the sort of overused cliché that belongs in a bad beer commercial. But three students from the University of Pennsylvania think it’s not only cliché, it’s also BS.

Siddharth Shah, Shashwata Narain and Alexander David recently won Penn’s $10,000 Y-Prize competition where members of the university propose innovative applications for existing technologies. The three-student team nicknamed “Fermento” developed a way to speed up beer fermentation by up to nine times without compromising alcohol quality and composition at an industrial scale. According to a Wharton press release, the team’s innovation uses microfluidic technology to increase the surface area of liquid sugars exposed to yeast—which is…you know…of course…how else would you do it?

As part of their prize, the students also get the rights to commercialize the application, which could prove extremely lucrative. According to KYW Newsradio, three of the five largest beer companies have already reached out to them. It could certainly be lucrative for those big brewers as well since this new technology could cut a three-week brewing process down to just one week.

“We are all beer lovers in some way or another. And so, being able to apply a new technology to better this kind of process is not just a big thing for the beer industry, but also the larger food processing industry as a whole,” said Narain. That’s the Ivy League way of saying, “We want beer and we want it FASTER!”

Related: 50 Nanobreweries in 50 States 
80 Fantastic Canned Beers to Celebrate 80 Years of the Beer Can 
Inside the Making of the Next Great Canned Beer