Three Wise Men: The Continuing Legacy of Brewing Education

picture of professors Glen Fox, Michael Lewis, and Charlie Bamforth
L-R: Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences Glen Fox, Professor Emeritus Michael Lewis, and Distinguished Professor Emeritus Charlie Bamforth
Glen Fox

UC Davis has had many educational and research themes running over many decades. One of the older such themes is the brewing program within the Department of Food Science and Technology (FST). The brewing program has a reputation as a global leader with students coming from far and wide to understand the complex science behind one of the world’s oldest beverages. 

In the late 1950s, the brewing industry approached the FST chair at the time, Professor Emil Mrak, and discussed setting up a brewing educational course. Professor Mrak thought this would be a great opportunity and there was born the first university brewing course in the U.S. 

In 1962, Dr. Michael Lewis came from Wales (U.K.), to become not only the first professor of brewing science at UCD, but also the first professor of brewing science in the U.S. Professor Lewis established the undergraduate brewing courses, a research program, and a Master Brewers Program. 

Professor Lewis retired in 1995 and in 1999, Professor Charlie Bamforth from England (U.K.) became the second UCD professor of brewing science and the first Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Malting and Brewing Science. Professor Bamforth continued Professor Lewis’ undergraduate courses and expanded the research program. He also became a prolific author in brewing text books. 

During the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s the craft brewing scene in the U.S. was taking off. There were surges and ebbs in the growth, but around 2010 the UCD craft brewing scene become the envy of all other countries with significant brewing industries. This growth was due in no small part to Professors Lewis and Bamforth.

Professor Bamforth retired in 2018, and Dr. Glen Fox (Australia) was appointed in 2019 as the second Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Malting and Brewing Science. Professor Fox has continued the tradition of providing outstanding educational content and growing the research program. And in 2023 Professors Bamforth and Fox published one of the brewing industry’s significant reference texts.

The history is important, as it laid the foundation for one of the world’s most successful craft industries. But of probably more significance was that recently the three brewing professors were together for the first time, as shown in the photo above.  

Visit the UC Brewing Program’s history page to learn more about the history of brewing at UC Davis.

There is always an opportunity to help train future brewers and brewing research scientists. With over 9,000 craft brewers in the U.S., it is thought that around 1 in 10 of those have a graduate degree from the UC Davis brewing program, with the number being greater in the 1,000+ craft breweries in California.

You can help us train future brewers and support brewing research; please visit the Malting and Brewing Program gift page to show your support.