Brewing up the good stuff with Jessica Just and Oregon State University
This year, Brew Dr. Kombucha signed on with Oregon State Athletics to provide Beaver fans with a variety of delicious kombuchas at their favorite school sporting events for at least the next two years. OSU football, baseball and basketball games may never be the same!
What makes this partnership so special is the fact that one of our very own is not only an Oregon State grad, but she was their first woman to graduate from the school’s Fermentation Program with a master’s degree in Food Science and Technology. Jessica Just serves as Brew Dr.’s Director of Technical Services. That’s a fancy way of saying she’s the one behind all of the science of kombucha, including research, quality control and assurance, and regulatory compliance. She also dedicates much of her time to give back to OSU, guest lecturing at the university’s food science department and recruiting students to join her team at Brew Dr.
We recently sat down with Jessica to ask her a few questions about her career, her accomplishments and Brew Dr.’s new partnership with the Oregon State Beavers.
Q: What got you into fermentation?
J: Interestingly, my passion for fermentation began when I was just a teenager. I played around with homebrewing beer with a kit my dad gave me. When I was at Oregon State, I learned about their fermentation program in the Food Science Department and quickly changed my major. I knew I wanted to continue to explore the mysteries of fermentation at the next level so I stuck around after I got my BS and earned a Masters in Food Science, too.
Q: What did you do with such a unique degree?
J: I began working in the wine industry at a large winery in Eastern Washington. I then worked as a fermentation microbiologist for a company that serves the beer, wine and spirits industries. From there, I landed a job as an instructor at OSU, teaching students like me who loved the science behind fermenting.
I then came to Brew Dr. as a Food Scientist where I get to use everything I’ve learned over the years on a daily basis to help produce what I believe is the best kombucha on the market. I still get back to OSU regularly as a guest lecturer and love to recruit fellow fermenting aficionados onto my team at Brew Dr. Because I went through the program, I know what these grads have learned and how much value they bring to Brew Dr. These graduates are exactly what I’m looking for as we develop and grow Brew Dr.
Q: OSU seems like a great resource for you. Did that lead to the new partnership with Brew Dr.?
J: Most definitely. OSU has an amazing fermentation program that produces smart food scientists who are contributing to the reemergence of the art and science of fermentation. Fermentation may be a new trend, but it’s an ancient art that’s retained its lure because of how it transforms relatively basic ingredients into incredible and often health-boosting foods and beverages.
I promote the program every chance I get and our new partnership with OSU ensures more people will get to know the miracles of fermentation beyond beer and wine. We believe introducing Brew Dr. Kombuchas to OSU sports fans and their opponents will only serve to pique people’s interest in both kombucha and fermentation. We plan to place Brew Dr. Kombucha and custom materials at other places around campus and the city of Corvallis.
OSU is also working with us to do more than spread kombucha love. Brew Dr. employed OSU’s Food Innovation Center to help with a shelf-life study and we’ve supported grant applications for OSU researchers. We want to better understand how our product ages once it leaves our controlled environment here at our facility. We want to protect the integrity of our kombucha and this study will help us determine how things like temperature can impact its taste, quality and live culture content. The partnership is just the beginning and we can’t wait to see where it goes.