Army spirit, science combines for festive week at West Point
By Mike Strasser, U.S. Military Academy Public AffairsDecember 7, 2012
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Dec. 6, 2012) -- There are countless ways cadets support the Army-Navy Game and they all contribute to keeping the "12th Knight" spirit strong at West Point.Whether they run the official game ball 150 miles to the stadium, compete against their Naval Academy counterparts in a variety of Patriot Games contests or participate in the awe-inspiring March On during pre-game ceremonies, cadets find ways to be significant contributors to the classic confrontation between Army and Navy.Cadets in the West Point American Institute of Chemical Engineers Club have developed their own unique way to support the home team during Army-Navy Week. Following the Spirit Rally and Bonfire, Dec. 6, at Daly Field, the club's brew crew -- Class of 2013 Cadets Daniel Prior and John Todd and Matthew Letarte -- will toast an Army victory as they debut a limited edition beer at the Firstie Club.It's called the Burning Boat Brown Ale, named after the sacrificial boat the Corps huddles around at the bonfire. While the boat turns to ashes, attendees are invited to sample the cadet's scientific endeavor.Yes, cadets make beer but chemistry is the main reason cadets practice the craft of brewing and also making chocolate."Chocolate and beer both have large-scale industrial complexes and those are two items chemical engineers do a lot of in the professional world," Letarte, club president, said. "They are also two things that are relatively safe for us to do, compare to distilling off hazardous chemicals. So these are the things we are able to do on a smaller scale and produce tangible results that people can test and really identify with."The cool factor of cadets making chocolate and beer may be the reason membership has increased this year, which is not mandatory but highly encouraged for chemical engineering majors. There are roughly 50 cadets currently studying this field of science. Letarte and Prior said it's a tough major with a difficult academic workload."You have to devote a lot of time and energy to do well in chemical engineering," Prior said. "I guess that goes back to why we chose it, it's a challenge."Prior is head brew master and cadet-in-charge of the Kicking Mule Brewing Company, which has produced three varieties of beer this semester -- a brown ale, a hefeweizen (white wheat) beer and a pale ale. Prior and Letarte helped produce about a dozen brews with the club overall. Prior is quite passionate about his work and it's evident in the way he talks about flavor profiles and hopping schedules. He said with assistance of faculty they've evolved from kitchen science to more clean and precise chemical engineering.
"It's actually quite a labor-intensive process … I could talk all day about the application of science behind it," Prior said, as he detailed the ingredients required and the chemical process. "There's so much science to it; you could talk about the starches breaking down into sugars, the yeast consuming the sugars and producing CO2 to carbonate the beer, the international bitterness factor … there's a lot of chemistry that goes along with it."There's no equation for combining chemicals and Army spirit but the Burning Boat Brown Ale is the chemical engineers' best attempt."This is our way of making something for this event at West Point but it's also a way we can express our interests and demonstrate that to the Corps," Letarte said. "A lot of our classmates are going to be out there and we're going to be able to provide them with the Burning Boat and I hope they enjoy it. It's awesome to see people enjoy something we made."
- August 10, 2020CLD leaders build detail from scratch after last minute change of duties
- August 7, 2020Cadets lead from the front during summer camp in Puerto Rico
- August 6, 2020Fuze removal success at BGCA
- August 5, 2020Cadets learn to be resilient during two-week course
- August 5, 2020With uncertainty at every corner, McAlpin finds her niche as a leader
- August 5, 2020Day two of ROTC Summer Camp in Puerto Rico
- August 3, 2020ROTC Summer Camp, Operation Agile Leader begins in Puerto Rico!
- July 30, 2020Soft spoken but a fighter, Walker commands CBT this summer
- July 30, 2020West Point cadets conduct new Army Rifle Qualification Test
- July 30, 202084th Training, Cadet Command Soldiers hone Best Warrior skills prior to higher level competitions
- July 23, 2020SFAB team teaches patrolling skills to cadets
- July 23, 2020Shekleton and McDonald take command of atypical Cadet Field Training
- July 17, 2020Cadet Command welcomes new Command Sergeant Major
- July 15, 2020A different glance from tradition, but experiencing R-Day is still same beast
- July 10, 2020George C. Marshall Award Recipient Joins the Puerto Rico Army National Guard