Mark Schiess


Class of 1974

There are usually two stories that I tell of my experiences at “AC” (Ashland University). One involves my first day there and the other is about an odd situation that led me to where I am today in retirement. Story one: My first day at Ashland was for freshman orientation. My parents drove me from New York the day before. I was running late at home and my father was in a hurry to get going on our 628-mile trip. I still remember the mileage as I made this drive 46 times in my 5 years at Ashland. Well, in my haste, I packed my belongings by just tossing them in the suitcase and squeezing it shut. Unbeknownst to me, a can of Right Guard deodorant (Gillette 1970s) lost its cap and got wedged against my other belongings. Somewhere, during our 12-hour drive, the full can of Right Guard decided to expel all of its contents. Upon arrival and opening the suitcase, we were met by a gagging perfume-like aroma. There was no time or place to wash all my clothes and sundries. I took exams, attended orientation, and met a lot of people that day. I’m sure many of them thought, “Do all kids from the East wear this much deodorant/cologne?” I sometimes excused myself and explained my story, but mostly I was too embarrassed to speak. Didn’t stop me from attending Ashland two months later though.

Story two: I should start this story by stating that I am a brewer amd brewery owner in my retirement. After Ashland, I did some research and then went to Ohio State University to become a physician assistant and later a perfusionist. I retired in 2013 and went to school (UC Davis, Siebel Institute) to further my knowledge of brewing science. This was a longtime hobby and interest of mine—and one that may have its roots on the campus of Ashland University! In the Spring of 1971, I was running near Kem Hall’s parking lot where there were two guys heating and stirring a pot on a camping burner. They were making beer! (I won’t reveal the name, but I think it was Dave with a last initial “R”.) He explained what I now know as the use of canned malt extract to brew beer—which has been commonly done since prohibition and is now a hobby for millions of “homebrewers”. At the time, I thought it was amazing.

Later in my junior year, my girlfriend (and I) would make wine (Old Normandy) in her dorm room (hey, it was the rebellious 70s!). One (the last) batch of this sugar, yeast and grape juice mix turned out very cloudy. As an assistant in the lab in Kettering Hall, I thought we should sneak the wine to the lab on the weekend and use Büchner funnels to filter this cloudy mess. Well, the filters kept getting clogged up and the whole clandestine operation took way too long. We were just getting ready to close up shop when in walked Drs. M, N, and R. They laughed, lectured me, and told me that we would probably get sick if we drank this “wine”. We cleaned up the lab and they kept the secret with my promise of no more wine. Few people knew why Kettering Hall smelled like concord grapes for a month in 1973. Little did I know that this would spark a lasting interest in fermentation science and a late-in-life career. To the gentlemen making that beer, that girlfriend, those great professors and Ashland University–I would like you to know that I will always be grateful. Thank you.

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