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Brainy Brews
Photo by Chris Hartlove

Shawn Lupold (left) and Alan Meeker

It's scientifically so complex," says Hopkins oncology researcher Shawn Lupold. "To really, really, really understand it would take a long time."

Lupold's not talking about cancer. He's talking about beer. He and his colleague Alan Meeker both study prostate cancer during their workweek, but on the weekends they turn their attention to making the perfect brew. A scientist through and through, Meeker approaches brewing just as he does his research. "I'm totally anal," he admits. "I have brew notebooks full of every little detail."

Lupold, on the other hand, is more freewheeling. "In science I'm very meticulous and I keep logs of everything," he says. But when it comes to beer, "I just kind of wing it."

Whatever their approach, biologists seem to make good brewmeisters. Last fall Lupold's pale ale won the Maryland Brewer's Oktoberfest competition. And Meeker's pale ale recipe has been used by Clipper City Brewery since fall of 2001, when he won the All Maryland Homebrew Pale Ale Competition.

So what's the secret to good homemade beer? "To make really, really good beer you have to be fairly well on top of a number of variables ... things like oxygen, temperature, the quality of your starting ingredients," says Meeker. "It does help to be a scientist, especially a biologist, because you can really understand every step of the process." — Kay Downer

Return to April 2004 Table of Contents

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