Jim Steele, Professor
Department of Food Science
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Phone (608) 262-5960
Jim Steele explains how UW-Madison’s fermentation programming helps the state’s beer and wine industries.
3:06 – Total time
0:16 – New university fermentation programming
0:33 – Program goals based on cheese model
1:10 – Added value wine and beer is economics
1:28 – Fuels small business
1:51 – Craft beer and wine takes off
2:08 – Quality products a challenge
2:23 – New people, new classroom opportunities
2:58 – Log out
Sevie Kenyon: Growing the fermentation business in Wisconsin. We’re talking beer and wine with Jim Steele, Department of Food Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and I’m Sevie Kenyon.
Jim, you’ve got some new programming started out to help us with wine and beer?
Jim Steele: Wine and beer quality is a big part of what we’re trying to do with the industry. We’re also certainly interested instruction, so undergraduate instruction in those topics and then conducting research, primarily on how yeast impact the flavor of both those products.
Sevie Kenyon: Do you have some goals in mind for this new programming area?
Jim Steele: Well we’d like to see growth in both those industries. We have a model in which the Department of Food Science has been heavily involved in trying to promote craft cheese and developing a program where we’re able to train people where they enhance the value of craft cheese in the state and that’s made a real significant impact on the economics of dairy farming, but as well as making cheese.
Sevie Kenyon: Jim can you walk us through an example of that?
Jim Steele: So if you’re selling commodity cheddar at let’s say $3 a pound, now if you turn that around and you make a craft cheese that you’re going to sell for $15 a pound, where you’re seeing almost a tenfold increase in the value of that product.
Sevie Kenyon: How does that apply to the beer and wine industry?
Jim Steele: Well in the case of the beer industry, there’s some commodity beers that are in place as well. And I think of those being around 30 cents a beer at the grocery store. If you were however to look at the craft beers, those are going typically for $1.50 a beer. So that gain is clearly value-added for an agricultural product.
Sevie Kenyon: And when you add value like that, what is the difference to the business?
Jim Steele: There’s a couple of major differences, I think the craft ones are certainly smaller. Because of that greater potential for profit margin you tend to see a lot more small businesses in the craft, whether you’re beer, wine, cheese, cider. It allows them to put more money perhaps into the marketing and into other ways to distinguish themselves from the commodity products.
Sevie Kenyon: Maybe you can give us a little run down of the craft beer and wine business in the state right now.
Jim Steele: We have over 100 breweries and 100 wineries. Most people are surprised by that second number. The number of cideries is probably between 8 and 10. What we’d really like to see is growth in the quality of products coming out of both of those industries and trying to help them be able to increase their market share.
Sevie Kenyon: When you talk about quality what kind of challenges are there?
Jim Steele: We don’t have as much of a history of producing wine in the state as we do beer. And so I’d say we see greater quality concerns there come down to how the fermentation is controlled.
Sevie Kenyon: Jim there have been a couple of recent developments here, new people, new product.
Jim Steele: We hired an enologist and we’re very excited about that to have Nick online. So we’re able to get someone with a host of experience in the wine industry in Minnesota. So he brings a great deal of expertise in the cold hardy wine varieties like what we use in the state. In our teaching side, we developed a product called Inaugural Red. And that’s a beer that is for sale really statewide. It’ll be out in bottles by about the middle of July. We’re really proud of that product. That was part of an undergraduate class project. Had a competition involved and we were able to teach basic science making beer but then also scale up, going from a half barrel system to an 80 barrel system. Without the Wisconsin Brewing Company that simply wouldn’t have happened.
Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting with Jim Steele, Department of Food Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and I’m Sevie Kenyon.