Taylor Heckaman, a post-graduate of EMU, as well as a member of the EMU Fermentation Science team that won several accolades at the 2023 U.S. Open College Beer Championship opened up about his interest in fermentation, his background and future aspirations, and advice for anyone else interested in fermentation science.
The spark for Heckaman’s interest in fermentation was lit by chance: “I needed a couple more science credits and I saw an Introduction to Fermentation Science 101 course being off during the Fall of my Junior semester … Once enrolled in the course I fell in love with fermentation and have not looked back!” He described fermentation as both a science and an art that encompasses many other disciplines and holds a rich cultural history across the globe as well.
Growing up in Grass Lake, a small farming town west of Chelsea, MI, Heckaman’s initial career goal was dental school. When he wasn’t accepted, he was encouraged by a friend to enter a graduate program at EMU, a decision that changed his life for the better. Since then, Heckaman has taught as a part-time lecturer teaching microbiology and fermentation science, and recently accepted a position as an Assistant Brewer at a local brewpub in downtown Ypsilanti.
For anyone interested in fermentation, Heckaman’s advice is approachable and encouraging: “go for it! Start with a google search, look up a simple recipe to get started; making homemade sauerkraut is as simple as mixing shredded cabbage with salt, placing it into a clean and sanitized container, blocking out the air and light and letting the magic happen.” He says from there let your interests guide you, whether that’s vegetables, sourdough, kombucha, beer, and many other options. “I would tell anyone to do themselves a favor and start exploring fermentation right now!”