An Educational Adventure Into Homebrewing: A Nathan Repp Anecdote

The return of Breaking Bad reminds me of my own personal hobbies involving chemistry. My pastime, however, is a far more innocuous practice: I am a homebrewer.

Chemistry outside of the classroom. (Photo Source: Adam Sharron

Chemistry outside of the classroom. (Photo Source: Adam Sharron

 The First Sip

We’re in the age of craft brewing and it was a certain Boston brewery that introduced me to my first craft beer. It was deep, complex and delicious. As I broadened my taste profile, I became fascinated by brewing’s intricacies. It all seemed so alchemical and I wanted to try my hand at it.

(Photo Source: Daniel Spiess

Differing yeast strains affect the taste and alcohol content of the beer. Most yeast dies at 14% alc/vol. (Photo Source: Daniel Spiess

A Brewing Quest

I started primitive: a store bought kit. My first beer tasted good enough but it wasn’t mine. I just poured things into a pail according to instructions.

For my next beer, I invested in a complete setup and the result was bland. I was still combining things without knowing the why and the what for.

So, I turned to books and experts and began to learn. It was frustrating but the acquisition of knowledge always has its rewards. I became a chemistry and biology student in my free time.

I became self-educated on the breakdown of starches in grain (for sweetness and yeast nutrient), the acidic content of hops (producing beer’s bitter or floral qualities), the conditioning of yeast

(Photo Source: zolakoma

A calculation of the beer’s gravity before and after fermentation will reveal the alcohol content. (Photo Source: zolakoma

Growing Something Great

This past winter, I set out to make a roasted hazelnut brown ale based on my own recipe.

For those interested: I used real hazelnuts, chocolate and crystal malts, and two doses of centennial hops.

When it was finished, it was exactly what I had set out to make because I had already produced it step-by-step in my mind. It tasted like an expression of myself and I could proudly explain the process that I used.

 Write in below and tell me about the educational hobbies that you are passionate about.

Cheers. (Photo Source: Daniel Lobo

Cheers. (Photo Source: Daniel Lobo

 Nathan Repp is a writer for Scholar Hero. The views and opinions expressed of this particular blog belong solely to those of the author and not of Scholar Hero, Inc.


Bytes of Truth: Simple Science Behind Shark Week

Tomorrow is the first day of Shark Week:  the Discovery Channel’s annual phenomenon that stirs a nationwide morbid fascination with these nightmarish cruising predators of the briny deep.

This year’s programming includes shows such as Voodoo Sharks, Sharkpocalypse, and Alien Sharks of the Deep. In preparation for the event, Scholar Hero provides you with a short list of shark facts to get you acquainted with the glorious field of elasmobranchology (shark science):

Photo Source:

(Photo Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters

 The Real Sense of Danger

Contrary to popular fear, the likelihood of an attack fatality is about 1 in 3,748,067. Even in those circumstances, humans are not their intended prey—but the seals that we look like are.  Most attacks are non-lethal “hit-and-runs,” commonly perpetrated by one of a dozen of species (there are over 300).


Citizens of the underwater world. (Photo Source: Ryan Espanto

Unique Adaptations

Modern sharks have existed for over 100 millions years and have adapted many unique attributes. Notable ones are their receptors that detect electrical signals produced by the movement of other living beings. Additionally, high levels of urea in their blood prevents water loss through osmosis.


The fact of a Lemon shark. (Photo Source: Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk

Social Sense

Showing a remarkable amount of social behavior, Lemon sharks keep to circles of friends and even learn from each other. While most sharks do form social structures, Lemon sharks are very selective about the company they keep.

To learn more about sharks beyond the gory yet insightful onslaught of Shark Week, check out the National Geographic site ( on them here. Shark Week starts August 4th on the Discovery Channel.


 Nathan Repp is a writer for Scholar Hero, Inc.