Straight to Ale, Alabama A&M University announces release of American beer “ Alma Mater ”
Huntsville’s Straight to Ale Brewery and Alabama A&M University have announced the release of their long-awaited collaboration beer.
Appropriately named “Alma Mater” by a group of students from the Alabama A&M MBA program, the light American-style lager will debut at Straight to Ale on Thursday, May 27th.
“We wanted a name that was related to Alabama A&M without being exclusive to our university, but also a name that appealed to most adults,” said Archie Tucker, II, vice president of marketing, communications and advancement at AAMU, in a press release.
The university and brewery will host a launch party starting at 6 p.m. this Thursday, and officials are encouraging attendees to wear their alma mater’s colors or clothing to celebrate the beer release next Thursday. The event will feature remarks from Alabama A&M President Dr. Andrew Hugine, Jr. and Rep. Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville). Daniels, who holds both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Alabama A&M, is one of the state’s leading advocates for legislation to ease restrictions on the state’s craft breweries.
In 2016, Governor Robert Bentley signed Alabama’s “Beer to go Bill”. The measure, sponsored by Daniels, allowed breweries to start selling 288 ounces of beer per customer per day for consumption away from the brewery’s premises. This week, Governor Kay Ivey signed the HB 539 law. Also sponsored by Daniels, the law will allow breweries to sell their customers 864 ounces of beer for off-site consumption starting in August.
Organizers say Alabama A&M is the country’s first historically black university to brew its own beer. Alma Mater’s exit comes after two years of planning and strategy development by university administrators, faculty, staff and students in collaboration with Straight to Ale.
Michael Colston, development associate in Alabama A & M’s Marketing, Communications and Advancement department, says beer development has been a “wonderful and long process.”
Colston began laying the groundwork for creating a beer for Alabama A&M in January 2019. During his research, Colston noticed that only a handful of universities had collaborated with breweries, and most of those collaborations were brand partnerships, such as the creation of limited edition beer. cans with university logos. To further his investigation, he called universities to find out if institutions were involved in the brewing process. Most of them, he said, didn’t.
“I did a lot of due diligence, you wouldn’t believe the calls I made and the data I collected. But it was worth it, ”said Colston.
Colston’s goal with the brewery’s collaboration was to create a “plug-and-play” model for historically black colleges and universities to generate income.
“There are so many ways to use the resources we have,” said Colston, who is a Mississippi Valley State University alumnus.
Working on this collaboration has been a passionate project for Colston, a beer lover with extensive knowledge of the craft brewing industry.
“I am deeply in the beer industry. I want to get Cicerone certification. My friends joke that I could pass the test without studying, ”he said.
Colston, who is friends with the owners of Natchez Brewing Company in Mississippi, was deeply interested in the Mississippi Brewers Guild’s fight to roll back Magnolia State’s restrictive alcohol laws and allow breweries to sell beer to customers for consumption on and off the premises. During the lobby, Colston wrote letters and spread the word in support of the effort. In 2017, Mississippi adopted HB 1322, which ultimately allowed breweries to sell beer directly to customers.
During his student years, Colston also became an advocate for diversity and inclusion in the craft beer industry, which, despite slow progress over the years, is still notoriously white and masculine. .
“Traditionally, the craft beer market has not been well represented by people of color,” Colston told WHNT earlier this month. “Bringing Straight to Ale another crowd of people who can be captivated and fall in love with craft beer works well for both of us.”
Colston says his vision for the brewing partnership received a lot of early support from the Alabama A&M faculty, especially when he presented his plan to Dr Archie Tucker.
“He read it and was sold,” Colston said.
The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the process for a year, but Colston took advantage of the delay to continue developing the concept.
Students from the Alabama A&M School of Food Science designed and brewed the beer with Straight to Ale under the direction of food biochemistry professor Dr. Josh Herring, who is also a home brewer.
With a strong emphasis on integrating real-world experience, Colston has worked with food science and business students.
Alabama A&M MBA program applicants developed the beer marketing strategy. Colston says the students took a deep dive into the world of beer marketing with the help of Straight to Ale sales manager Adam Madderra, who criticized business plans and sales pitches.
“It allowed us to gain real-world experience in pitching the name to the AAMU and Straight to Ale marketing teams,” said Casey Warner, a recent MBA graduate, in the collaboration’s press release. “We are also delighted to know that we have helped the university generate a new source of income that will support the campus for years to come.”
Alma Mater will be available on tap at Straight to Ale Brewing and can be purchased via six-pack, crowlers, or growlers starting the evening of May 27. The beer will arrive in other markets across the state from the week of May 31, including an event outing at Birmingham’s Hop City Craft Beer and Wine on June 3.
Straight to Ale and Alabama A&M will release more details on additional locations in the coming weeks. If all goes well, the university plans to donate the beer to Alabama A&M sporting events in the fall. Colston hopes to eventually have Alma Mater in taprooms, retailers, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs in Alabama and across the country.
“We’re trying to get it in everyone’s hands,” Colston said. “Whether or not you go to A&M, the beer is good anyway.”
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