AMS brewery committee makes tangible progress after last year’s restart

Four years after UBC students voted to approve the creation of a campus microbrewery, the AMS brewery committee — which was only restarted last year following “two years of near-inactivity” — finally looks like they’re making tangible progress on it.

According to last year’s chair, Jakob Gattinger, the committee has written a working draft for their Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which is an agreement between UBC and the AMS that outlines the brewery’s costs and each party’s financial obligation. Once the MoU is approved by both AMS Council and UBC’s Board of Governors, the society can start charging students an annual brewery fee.

Since the deadline for the Board to approve student fees for the upcoming school year is June 14, Gattinger said he is “99.9 per cent certain” they won’t be able to meet that date. While he was hesitant to suggest deadlines, he predicted that the Board will vote on the fee by June 2019.

“That’s the most likely time,” Gattinger said. “It could happen beforehand, but June is just the last opportunity for the following September to start charging a fee.”

If approved, students will then be charged a $2.50 annual brewery fee in September 2019. The fee will increase by increments over the following five years until it reaches $7.

One notable goal they fully completed is tying the brewery into academia, which has posed challenges for previous committees.

Students from all faculties are now able to take a minor in fermentations, which is under the faculty of land and food systems (LFS) and was approved by the Senate in March 2018. Courses that students are required to take for the minor include FNH 405 Microbiology of Food and Beverage Fermentation, BIOC 302 General Biochemistry, FNH 330 Introduction to Wine Science, FNH 335 Introduction to Wine Science II and two other courses from a list of science and LFS classes.

The minor is also available at UBC Okanagan, albeit with different course requirements.

“I am very excited that the proposed student-centred partnership with the AMS on the fermentation lab will provide students with transformative learning opportunities,” said Dr. Anubhav Pratap Singh, assistant professor in food processing and academic lead planning for the Food and Beverage Innovation Centre, in an emailed statement to The Ubyssey.

“... The lab’s equipment and facilities will be student-facing to provide students with innovative opportunities for undergraduate research, hands-on micro-brewing and programming and access for student entrepreneurship.”

Gattinger attributed the momentum to the new size of the committee, which was smaller last year than those from previous years and ensured that every member was committed.

“[Last] year we had some very engaged folks,” he said. “We definitely had more activity in the past year then we did in the two years before that.”

But Gattinger concluded that he was ultimately disappointed with the committee’s progress.

“I would have wanted to deliver a MoU signed, sealed and delivered by now, and we didn’t do that,” he said. “So [in] that sense, it’s a disappointment. But I do think, compared to previous years, we did move the needle in the right direction.”

Continuing the momentum

This year’s brewery committee will be chaired by AMS VP Academic and University Affairs Max Holmes, and while most members are new, AMS designer Michael Kingsmill will be sitting on the committee again.

Although the committee has not had the chance to meet, Holmes expressed interest in ensuring that this year’s committee will complete its MoU process and continue the progress of last year’s team.

“We are hopefully meeting within the next week or two to begin to bring up everything together and to look at the current progress and to set our goals, along with all the other committees that are setting their goals for the AMS,” he said.

“So we plan to meet and make sure that we can really push forth this project.”