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LSU-branded beer to be sold by Baton Rouge brewery

Louisiana's flagship university is collaborating with a microbrewery to launch its own beer, with sales planned to start during the fall football season.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Louisiana's flagship university is collaborating with a microbrewery to launch its own beer, with sales planned to start during the fall football season.

The LSU-licensed blonde ale, produced by Baton Rouge-based Tin Roof Brewing Co., will be offered on draught and in cans and will be tied into a food science training program to teach students about fermentation.

"Wineries and breweries are popping up everywhere. It's a really valuable thing that people can learn. For us, it's just a great opportunity to partner up with LSU and teach students something that's really cool," said William McGehee, an LSU alumnus and one of the two owners of Tin Roof.

Tin Roof, located about a quarter-mile from the university campus, rolled out its first beers in November 2010. It started through assistance from LSU's small business incubator, so the partnership was easy to continue with an LSU-branded beer.

University food science professors worked with Tin Roof on the recipe for the new beer, the professors will help with brewing and quality control measures, and students will be taught classes in fermentation science at the brewery starting this fall, McGehee said Wednesday.

Business students already have worked on branding, imaging and marketing for the new beer, said Charles D'Agostino, executive director of the LSU Louisiana Business and Technology Center, the incubator that helped Tin Roof start its business.

"This is a very good project, and it's got all the necessary ingredients for success," D'Agostino said. "We are very optimistic that this will be a good partnership for us."

The arrangement will give royalty revenue to the university, but also helps expand the Tin Roof business, introducing its products to a wider audience. McGehee said LSU sports fans and tailgaters are the target audience for the new blonde ale, which will be distributed by Mockler Beverage.

A spokesman for the university, Ernie Ballard said the logo and design are being finalized with an eye toward putting the beer on store shelves and in bars by September or October. The final licensing paperwork still must be completed.

The beer's name has yet to be announced.

"It's not going to be called 'LSU Beer,'" D'Agostino said. "They came up with a name that is related to LSU. We had some serious review to what we could use and what we couldn't use. They wanted to use the eye of the tiger, for example, but the eye of the tiger is for use by LSU and by LSU only, so we had to go through what tiger images are acceptable."

The beer will bear a logo noting it is an officially-licensed university product.

McGehee acknowledged beer sales tied to a university could be a touchy subject, but he focused on the educational aspect.

LSU won't be the first school to venture into alcohol territory.

The University of California, Davis has a winery, brewery and food-processing research and teaching complex. D'Agostino said colleges in Oregon and Washington also both have relationships with wine-making and beer-making operations.

D'Agostino didn't have estimates on how much money LSU might get through the beer royalties.

"I do really believe that they're going to have capacity problems in not being able to make enough. I just think it's going to be something really novel and unique, and they will have quality," he said.

Tin Roof's beers — including a pale ale and an amber — are currently sold around southeast Louisiana only in draught form. However, the company is adding a canning line in time for the LSU beer rollout.