Manchester University
Oak Leaves

November 8, 2019

Dr. Calka: Professor by Day, Brewmaster by Night

Jarred Hubbard


When Dr. Michelle Calka isn’t teaching communication studies classes, chances are she’s brewing beer. Calka has been an amateur brewer for the past 6 years. “It has been a personal interest of mine and just something to also share with the community,” she said. “This is also a hobby.”

She doesn’t just like the taste of the beer, but she also loves the process and learning new things about the science and arts of brewing. “There’s a certain art and science to it,” she said. “I’ve learned a lot about algebra and chemistry that I never knew. Now I understand the importance of water chemistry and the importance of algebra and also determining factors as well.”

Calka is also interested in the cultural aspects of beer. She’s been doing quite a bit of research regarding beer’s interaction with different communities and cultures inside and out of the United States. In fact, she’s taking a group of students to Ireland in January to study just that. “I want to see and I want the students to see what a pub is really about and how beer can help to bring more people together,” she said.

How did she get into brewing beer? Calka credits her academic interest. “The different chemistries and sciences make the process more enjoyable for me,” she said. “And I realized I was living in a very small town and we didn’t have access to really good beer, so I decided to start making my own.”

Beer takes longer to make than it does to drink. “Beer takes seven hours of brewing work to the point of fermentation and it takes about two weeks to be consumable,” Calka said. “Some beers take up to a year depending your personal preference of the beer and personal taste.”

She is particularly looking forward to her Ireland trip. “The pubs aren’t a place to really just go and get drunk; they are places to go and socialize with the community,” she said. “I believe that this trip will show the students another side of what beer and beer culture are really about.”

Calka believes that pub culture has gotten a bad name due to things that people have heard and that they are really a place of what she calls “togetherness.” According to her: “Beer has literally changed the world and has changed a lot over the years.”

Along with her educational interest, Calka also loves to use beer in her cooking as well. “It gives food more flavor and taste and it gives it a flare,” she said. “I think it’s a great idea to use it in your cooking.”