VUT Biotechnology and Chemistry students’ knowledge tested at intervarsity beer brewing challenge

 By : Nontobeko Moimane – 03 November 2023

The Vaal University of Technology’s (VUT) Biotechnology and Chemistry Work Integrated Learning and Advanced Diploma students embarked on an exciting journey, putting their skills and knowledge to the test. They enthusiastically participated in a distinctive Intervarsity Brewing and Tasting Challenge recently hosted at the Central University of Technology (CUT) in Bloemfontein.

This competition, an annual tradition where seventeen (17) South African universities showcase their brewing talents, has a rich sixteen-year (16) history. VUT, a recent participant, joined this thrilling event two years ago. This year, more than ninety (90) students flexed their brewing innovation and talent in in six distinct categories, including IPA, Sour Beer, Lager, Wild Ale, Aged Beer, and LowAlcohol (Summer) Beer.

The primary goal of this competition is to inspire young minds to consider a career within the old-age tradition of brewing. The event received generous sponsorship from notable organisations, including Beer Association of SA (BASA), FoodBev Seta, Heineken, and South African Breweries (SAB). The initiative for VUT to participate in this competition originated from the Co-operative Education which collaborated with Heineken in 2022 and roped in the Department of Biotechnology and Chemistry, to make it a reality.

The program featured a diverse range of activities, from tastings to lectures and presentations, enticing students to explore various career paths within the beer sector. Notably, the participating students came from diverse academic backgrounds, including engineering, biochemistry, biotechnology, environmental health, and microbiology. Team VUT also collaborated with a first-year student from the graphic design department to create unique labels for their beer creations.

This exceptional event was co-hosted by the Beer Association of SA (BASA) and CUT through the CUT Hotel School and the Centre for Applied Food Sustainability and Biotechnology (CAFSaB).

VUT’s dedicated team consisted of five students led by Michel wa Ngoy. The students were accompanied by Dr. Annie Moletsane, Director of Co-operative Education, Zinhle Marrengane (Mentor) and Prof Christa Grobler, the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Applied and Computer Sciences. The students entered three categories: Lager, Sour Beer, and IPA. Although they didn’t secure a victory in any category, they received encouraging feedback compared to the previous year.

More than a competition, this event served as a platform for VUT students to exhibit their talents and expertise in the realm of biotechnology. It allowed them to apply their theoretical knowledge in a practical, hands-on setting, fostering innovation and collaboration.

VUT’s involvement in this competition underscores the university’s dedication to providing its students with real-world opportunities to apply their education. It not only sharpens their skills but also encourages networking and learning from peers at different institutions, promoting a sense of companionship and constructive competition in the academic world.

This experience will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact on the students, recognising their hard work and dedication in the field of biotechnology. It’s a testament to the value of practical, experiential learning and the academic community’s commitment to nurturing the next generation of experts in this specialised field.