Deep brews bitter to honor 'Magnetic Capital of the World

Science and beer are never far from each other, and nothing has underscored the relationship between brewer and science quite like the latest collaborative effort at Deep Brewing Company. 

But, before we get into a project that we're proud to call our first Craft Capital Collaboration, a brief history lesson.    

Few would have been blamed for balking at the idea of challenging MIT's well-established Francis Bitter National Magnet Laboratory — founded a quarter-century earlier — with a proposal to open a jointly operated Field Magnetic Laboratory in sleepy Tallahassee. 

Thankfully, fortune favors the bold, and after numerous reviews, the lab that Jack Crow of Florida State University, Neil Sullivan of the University of Florida, and Don Parkin of Los Alamos National Laboratory (New Mexico) envisioned — a collaborative research facility dedicated to the housing, construction, and operation of the world's most powerful magnets — was approved in 1989.

Electro Magnetic Bitter is being released Feb. 29, one week after the Mag Lab's annual open house.

Whether it's the impressive utility infrastructure used for powering and cooling the magnets, or the 17 world records the lab has attained, or the incredible magnets themselves, Tallahassee's National Magnetic Laboratory has continued to set — and raise — the bar for magnetic research.

Perhaps the lab's most significant contribution, of a list of more than 100+ patents, is the significant enhancements to the building block of resistive magnets, a stack of CD-thick copper alloy disks called bitters. 

While the disks, varying in width from a few centimeters to nearly a yard, and featuring a series of holes and slits that allow cooling water to pass through, were invented by Francis Bitter in the 1930s; they saw significant improvements in the 1990s through technological advancements created here in Tallahassee.

The reconsideration of the shape, size, and alignment of the bitter's cooling holes resulted in the highest-field resistive magnets in the world. So potent and efficient that four of the world's five largest magnetic laboratories now use the "Florida Bitter" technology produced in Tallahassee.

Deep teamed up with the MagLab for its new Electro Magnetic Bitter debuting on Feb. 29.

Science and beer connections run Deep

Just as manufacturing a Florida Bitter requires starting with quality materials, refined processes, incredible patience, and an obsession for quality control, so might the brewing of an English or Extra Special Bitter. Ask Deep Brewing Company's owner/brewer Ryan LaPete, who recently brewed such a beer paying homage to the technology that helped make Tallahassee the "Magnetic Capital of the World!"

"Electro Magnetic Bitter," a thirst-quenching 3.2% English ale, is an idea conceived by the Office of Economic Vitality as a way to foster conversation about the MagLab beyond traditional channels.

"We've been working with a task force to really focus on research and business development opportunities centered around applied sciences and magnetic technologies. One of the marketing pieces is that we're the 'Magnetic Capital of the World' anchored by the largest and strongest magnet in the world right there at the MagLab," said the Director for the Tallahassee/Leon County Office of Economic Vitality Cristina Paredes.

Paredes went further to explain: "We were looking for a great way to let the community know that this exists right here in Tallahassee, and what a better way than brewing a bitter beer!"

And did Deep Brewing Company buy in? Uh, yeah! To the tune of a specialty beer, a limited can release featuring a specially designed label — drawing inspiration from many of the physical attributes of the Florida Bitter disks — an all-day beer release event on Feb. 29.

Additionally, the brewery has made STEM programs (those focusing on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) Deep's monthly mission for March.  

Each month, the team at Deep selects a featured beer whose sales will help raise funds for a chosen organization/charity. 

During March, $1 from every full pour and $2 from every growler fill of Electro Magnetic Bitter will go toward raising money for youth education programs like SciGirls and Camp Tesla. Another very cool way that EMB honors, and fosters, Tallahassee's scientific community.

Of the collaboration with OEV and the Tallahassee Beer Society, LaPete had this to say: "The whole endeavor has been a little bit of a learning experience for me as well. Knowing I had a bitter in my brewing schedule, the Beer Society came to me with OEV's idea that an essential piece of the MagLab's magnets was this bitter technology and how that inspired (OEV) to think of a bitter beer."

It is here that we must make an important distinction: "Electro Magnetic Bitter" does not feature a bitter flavor profile — far from it. An English, or Extra Special Bitter, is a beautiful copper-colored, malt-forward, beer style featuring just enough hop in the aroma and flavor to balance sweet caramel notes from the malt. 

So where can you score the brew we're calling "EMB"? The best spot would be the brewery's 2524 Cathay Ct #2 address for their "Electro Magnetic Bitter Can Release" party running from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. on Feb. 29. 

The event, which will feature some additional EMB swag (coasters, pint glasses, shirts), will mark the official release of the brew; however, kegs of the beer will be distributed to select accounts in the following weeks. 

More on the MagLab:

See a world record holding behemoth 

This Saturday presents the golden opportunity to witness Florida Bitter technology at work, as the mecca of magnets celebrates its 25th year in Tallahassee.

That's right, the lab covered in 9,600 publications, discussed in 8,500 presentations, having hosted more than 25,000 researchers, that also found time to host a few weddings, the National Magnetic Laboratory welcomes you to engage science and scientists at their annual open house.

On Feb. 22, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., the laboratory invites curious minds of all ages to see the world's largest and highest-powered magnet laboratory during their free annual event. The open house features fun, hands-on demonstrations, self-guided tours, food, and the opportunity to interact with the folks that use, produce, and maintain, a bevy of world record-holding magnets, including the Guinness World Record holder for strongest magnet - 45 Tesla Hybrid!

For its 25th anniversary, the lab has selected it's theme as "Time" for the open house, honoring past achievements, offering glimpses into the future, while opening its doors to tomorrow's innovators.  

And how does Paredes see Electro Magnetic Bitter going forward? 

"It will be our calling card for magnetic technologies over the next couple of months," she said. "We'll invite people to come out and experience the MagLab for themselves and explore the research and business opportunities that Tallahassee has to offer."

Tallahassee's science, business, and beer communities all working together — that's a craft capital collaboration — and we'll toast to that!

Matthew Crumbaker is co-founder of the TLH Beer Society, a group of avid craft beer lovers. He is also a co-host of Saturday Morning Bottle Share on 97.9 ESPN radio. Follow TLH Beer Society at or @TLHBeerSociety on Twitter and Instagram. Email

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