You don’t have to go to university to start a brewery. But if you wanted to start making beer for a living, it’s hard to think of a better field to study than chemical engineering. After all, while craft beer is a creative industry, if you want to transform malt, water, hops and yeast into beer, then an understanding of the chemical process behind it all is certainly going to help.
The Zythologist is the work of not one, but three chemical engineers and although their beers first appeared in 2021, the story can be traced back a little further. In 2018, a trio of Monash University students, Shiv Tandon, Gina Pacheco Arredondo and Daniel Rojas Sanchez, started BrewLab: a student-run brewery designed to give students hands-on experience making beer.
What a way to learn it was too. Armed with just a small Braumeister and many, many fermentation vessels, the three students set about brewing every style under the sun. And although making beer together began as a university passion, as many brewers will tell you, making beer is the kind of thing that quickly gets under your skin.
As such, while BrewLab was built for students, when it came time for the three founding students to move on, they weren’t ready to stop making beer. So, at the start of 2021, The Zythologist was born: a professional brewing company still guided by a passion to bring beer and science together.
Since that debut, their range has been impressively diverse: they might be guided by scientific enquiry, but they’re creative too. Their tagline of “brewed by science” saw them start off with an imperial stout only to follow it with an alcohol-free pale that featured lemon myrtle and old man's saltbush.
Sure, unusual ingredients aren’t uncommon in modern brewing but The Zythlogist's approach is always about using them to not only create flavours but also something more precise. That lemon myrtle and saltbush, for example, was picked to recreate some of the warmth that booze brings to beer that can be lacking in the alcohol-free space.
The Elemental core range of beers draw on the periodic table, while their limited releases are inspired by scientific phenomena, such as Refraction which shines a light on beer through multiple brewing traditions at once.
After spending their first years brewing on the stainless of others, they’re set to put down roots in the second half of 2023. The brewery was still under construction at the time of writing but, once up and running, is located a short stroll from Oakleigh train station.
It means The Zythologist have ended up close to where their story began, with Monash University a short drive away and the brewers planning to continue the close collaboration with their alma mater and seeing further opportunity to teach BrewLab students.
Who knows, maybe one day more students will end up graduating and start brewing at their ten-hectolitre brewery. Even if they don’t, they will have the chance to learn the practical side of brewing and the science of beer.
University and beer have long been somewhat synonymous with one another; now, with the arrival of The Zythologist, they’re more closely entwined than ever before.