For Molly Browning ’04, a two-week study abroad course in 2001 changed her life. The trip, led by Fumiko Radile, a Japanese professor, allowed Molly to experience Hiroshima and Nagasaki while a later visit to an Osaka pub sparked her interest in the brewery business. A double major in history and economics, Molly seems an unlikely candidate for a brew master. However, in her eyes, her interests and education blend perfectly.
As the lead brewer of Baird Brewing Company of Numazu, Japan, Molly considers the history of the particular beer when formulating a recipe or looking up a beer style.
“The history of beer is intimately tied with the social, political, and economic history of mankind ,” she says.
For example, the India Pale Ale style of beer was created by the English when India was then a colony of England. When English breweries would send beer over to India for the English soldiers, they found that the beer spoilt easily on the ship voyage over. So, in order to prevent this from happening, the breweries in England added more hops (hops being what gives the beer bitterness), which act as a natural preservative for the beer. Today, one of the style characteristics of the India Pale Ale is its tendency to be overly bitter or hoppy.
From her first-year at R-MWC, study abroad opportunities enriched Molly’s history and economics studies. Without it, she would have not made acquaintances in Japan or England which brought her back to both places as a graduate.
“The friends that I made in the short time we stayed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki are friends that I regularly see here living in Japan,” Molly says. “I received the brewing job because of the academic reputation of our College. That, I have to say, was quite gratifying.”