New-to-NAU Devon Randall is an assistant professor of practice in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. She oversees a Brewing Science Certificate and is an adjunct professor in the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management. She also is a professional beer taster with goals of judging the World Beer Cup. The NAU Review spoke with Randall about her plans at NAU and the question we’re all dying to know—what is a beer connoisseur’s favorite beer?
What brought you to NAU?
The new Brewing Science Certificate program brought me to NAU. We previously lived in Los Angeles, with dreams of moving to Flagstaff. Once I saw the job posting for this position, I thought to myself “Oh, that’s me!”
As a new resident, what is your favorite thing about Flagstaff so far?
We currently live in Williams, so I’m looking forward to moving to Flagstaff very soon. The brewing scene in town is amazingly rich and versatile for the size of the community. I love visiting Mother Road Brewing’s tap room to relax.
Tell me about your past life. What led to you becoming an award-winning professional beer taster?
What got me really interested in beer at first was the stories surrounding each beer, whether it’s how they are made or where they are from. I was working as a server in college, and I just adored the opportunity to talk beer with customers. This led to homebrewing, then becoming a certified beer judge and then to brewing professionally.
Tell me about a significant childhood memory and how it has impacted your life today.
I have two. I lost my older sister, Allison, when I was 20 years old. We were close, and I miss her every day. This taught me that even on a very bad day, I would much rather be here than not. Soon after that, I went sailing on catamaran yacht from South Africa to the Caribbean with a crew of only four. That taught me what it’s like to be very, very alone. My watch was from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m. It was amazing looking out over the Atlantic Ocean knowing there was no one even remotely nearby.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
As a young child, I wanted to be a veterinarian. Going to UC Berkeley as an undergraduate, I intended to be an environmental sciences major. Although my career took me in many different directions as a brewer, I’m happy to have made my way back to science.
What have you been most proud of recently?
I am so proud of my CHM312-Sensory & Quality Aspects of Beer and HA372-Beer Basics students. Watching them learn about brewing and now start to craft their in-class presentations has been very rewarding. I’ve been astounded by their insightfulness and creativity.
What is your favorite way to spend a day off?
Doing new and exciting things in and around Flagstaff with my fiancé, Drew Carricato, and my 2.5-year-old daughter, Genevieve. We moved here for the community and the gorgeous outdoors.
What are three things on your bucket list?
- Judge the World Beer Cup. I have judged for The Great American Beer Festival twice, and I hope to be experienced enough for WBC in the future.
- Lead a trip in conjunction with NAU/Study Abroad to Germany. I would love to learn more about German beer culture and visit the famous brewing region of Bavaria.
- Summit Humphrey’s Peak. While the 12,633-foot elevation sounds daunting, it’s only 5,723 feet higher than Flagstaff. I can see it from my office window, and that mountain is calling me.
What are you most looking forward to in your new role at NAU?
I am most looking forward to our first Brewing Science Certificate graduates! There are two paths: Quality Assurance and Hospitality/Management. We are offering some of the required classes for the first time next semester (CHM310-Principles of Brewing Science and CHM311-Brewing Process Technology), and I’m excited to meet the future generations of craft brewers.
Last but not least and because we are all dying to know—what is your favorite beer of all time? And your go-to easy drinking beer?
Favorite beer? Saison Dupont, hands down. It is my ‘desert island’ beer. The students in my classes will understand what that means!
Favorite go-to easy drinking beer? Currently, Tower Station IPA by Mother Road. I also enjoy a well-made pilsner.