A taste of beer equals a taste of victory today for UC Davis and Charlie “The Pope of Foam” Bamforth, star of a short video that won a Taste Award last night (Jan. 16) in Hollywood.
The video, The Art & Science of Beer, produced as part of UC’s Onward California campaign last year, earned the viewers choice award for short documentary (5-10 minutes long). That translates to a lot of viewers (and voters) who got a good taste of UC Davis.
“I guess it feels a bit special to be the star of a film that wins on the red carpet in Hollywood,” said Bamforth, who was unable to attend last night's event. “Seriously, I am grateful to the production company that really helped us put across our mantra that beer is fascinating, intriguingly complex, but also a fun and wide-ranging vehicle for studying great science.”
The Taste Awards, also known as the Tasty Awards, now in their fifth year, “honor the world’s best” in the “lifestyle entertainment industry.”
Bamforth, who holds the Anheuser-Busch Professorship in Malting and Brewing Science, is definitely entertaining in the lecture hall and in the winning video as he takes us through the brewing process (from malt to mash to wurt, from brew kettle to fermenter and into the bottle), tells how beer saved the world, and, finally, pours the perfect pint.
The Art & Science of Beer and the other Onward California videos are the work of The Department of the 4th Dimension, a Los Angeles-based company that specializes in multidimensional storytelling. Company founder and chief executive Matt Checkowski accepted the award last night.
“It’s particularly exciting for us to be recognized by the Taste Awards for our work with the university and Charlie,” Checkowski said in a news release that his company sent out today.
Also today, Checkowski sent a personal thank you email to UC Davis Strategic Communications, which used the university’s Facebook page and Dateline UC Davis newsletter to publicize the viewers choice contest.
“We very literally could not have won this without all the votes you rallied up at Davis — so extra congrats and thanks for being so supportive,” Checkowski wrote.
“We’re very proud of the film and the notice it has earned online. A well orchestrated, organic success story!”
Checkowski, filmmaker and his company’s creative director, acknowledged his talented group of storytellers, “but what’s most exciting is that the message of this film and the (Onward California) series — the importance of higher education — is further amplified by this recognition.”
Jason Simon, executive director of marketing communications at the UC Office of the President, echoed Checkowski’s comment. “That’s exactly the point of Onward California — this video and all the others — to show the essential nature of the University of California, because of the contributions it makes every day to California and the world.”
For example, one video tells how UC is sending simple, solar powered lights to the Third World, to places that have no electricity; another shows UC’s water research in the Sierra Nevada; and another reports on UC’s efforts to develop an artificial kidney.
‘How beer saved the world’
In The Art & Science of Beer, shot in the August A. Busch III Brewing and Food Science Laboratory at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, Bamforth offers an education on the “why” of beer, comparing today’s processes with those of the past. “If you go way back, there were no thermometers, so how do you work out the right temperature? It’s whether they could see their face in the steam, whether they could put their thumb in it — the rule of thumb.
“Particularly in the last 100, 120 years, people have worked out the science of brewing, and now we say, ‘Hey, that’s why.’”
And he’s all about the lore: “This is how beer saved the world,” he said while pointing out a brew kettle. “For the longest time, people had no idea about bacteria, so they drank the water and got sick, and they found when they drank the beer they didn’t get sick, and the reason is, when you make beer you boil it and so this kills off all of those nasty, unwanted organisms.”
He concludes by opening a bottle of beer and pouring a glass — “pour with vigor” — and summarizes the science: “So you’re basically producing all this wonderful foam, you’ve got all the color, and the yeast having converted those sugars into alcohol, produced all that carbon dioxide, beautiful little bubbles. You’ve got the proteins from the grain, the bitter acids from the hops sticking together.
“That’s just nectar.”
The Onward California collection includes three videos from UC Davis:
• Reaching Out, Beyond Earth, with geology professor Dawn Sumner, talking about her work on the Mars Curiosity mission
And two with Bamforth: