When Jeremy Sabo chose to study biochemistry at The University of Tulsa three years ago, he knew he wanted to have his own lab before he graduated. He didn’t know he was creating a Marshall Brewing internship program.
Sabo, a senior, was the first student to initiate the university’s partnership with Marshall Brewing. His job: to start and operate a quality control unit for the brewery to ensure its beer meets a high standard before it’s shipped for distribution.
Sabo started the lab from the ground up, setting up the equipment and establishing the protocol.
“I literally got what I asked for. I just didn’t know it was going to be at a brewery when I showed up three years ago,” Sabo said.
The new program, which started this year, is the brainchild of chemistry instructor Keith Symcox.
“The idea was, when you make the jump from craft brewery to a regional brewery, you have to institute quality control systems you don’t have to have when you’re a home brewer,” Symcox said. “I contacted Eric Marshall at Marshall Brewing and asked, ‘Are you still interested in doing this internship?’ and he said yes.”
Symcox said he got the idea after Oklahoma voters approved Ballot Question 792, which allows grocery stores to sell wine and full-strength beer. He figured with the law’s passage, more craft breweries would be looking to grow their business so their beer could be sold in stores. As a result TU is collaborating with Marshall Brewing to offer a beer brewing certificate. The program is expected to begin in spring 2018.
“There’s going to be a huge increase in craft brewing in the state,” Symcox said. “But that big growth requires technical support to keep it going, and so I thought what a great fit with the Chemistry Department at TU.”
Sabo, who works with another student in the lab, said he’s enjoyed working in the nontraditional setting of a brewery. And even though he’s having fun, he said it’s also been an incredibly enriching educational experience.
“One of the primary reasons I came to TU is they have a great undergraduate research program. They allow you an opportunity to have some sort of paid internship or research experience.” Sabo said. “TU is great for research and internships like this.”