Last year's beer-food pairing was so successful the event was moved to the USFSM campus.

USFSM students get creative for beer & food event

By: Rich Shopes

Posted: November 19, 2015

SARASOTA, Fla. (Nov. 19, 2015) – Tangerine-infused beer? How about honeydew melon? Or maybe a Kölsch-style brew flavored with white truffles?

Introduction to Beer Science Instructor Joe Askren says his students are letting their imaginations and taste buds guide them as they approach the 2015 Fall Semester Beer & Food Tasting Finale Event set Dec. 3 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus, 8350 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.

“It’s definitely one of the highlights of the semester,” said Askren, who along with USFSM chemistry instructor Dr. Ken Caswell oversees the science-of-beer class.

In addition to learning beer basics and taking guided tours at local microbreweries, the 23 students have separated into teams in recent weeks to try their own hand at beer making. Working with master brewers from Big Top Brewing Co., Avid Brew Co., and Darwin Brewing Co., the students have been tasked to conjure up unique and flavorful concoctions to be paired with food.

One of the more lavish entries was the brainchild of senior Dennis Metz, who with fellow students used white truffles donated from New York-based Urbani Truffles in making a German Kölsch-style beer. Other entries include tangerine-coriander beer, honeydew melon and banana-chocolate.

Askren cautions don’t be fooled by the seemingly odd selection of ingredients. He says the class is working with master brewers who know their craft and can anticipate the likely result of each additional component.

The idea, he said, is to introduce hints of flavor to enhance the beers so they exhibit complexity and pair well with food. Adding chocolate? Expect a slight sweetness, while citrus provides tang and coriander adds spice and earthiness. The aim is to achieve balance.

“They’ll be unbelievable,” said Askren, noting the selection at last year’s event was especially well-received, prompting him to stage a second beer-food pairing this fall. “We expect to have twice as many people at this event. We had about 80 last spring.”

In anticipation, Chef Garry Colpitts of USFSM’s Culinary Innovation Lab in Lakewood Ranch is preparing a menu of savory and sweet dishes based on descriptions of the students’ beers.

The event will begin at 5 p.m. at Selby Auditorium on the USFSM campus with a round-table discussion involving master brewers, including from Big Top Brewing Co., Avid Brew Co., Darwin Brewing Co., Green Bench Brewing Co., and Cigar City Brewing.

After that, attendees can sample the handiwork of the seven teams of students in the courtyard outside Jonathan’s Cafe. Each table will provide food, beer and a description about how the beer was made. The students will be on hand to answer questions.

The event is open to the public. Tickets are $65 and are available at

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