Local brewery creates SOU draft

Raider athletics fans soon may be able to show their support for Southern Oregon University by ordering a cold one in Ashland bars and restaurants.

At the request of the university, Southern Oregon Brewing Co. has created Raider Red, a special draft beer for SOU.

The university ordered 50 cases of the bottled ale and served it at two events for faculty and alumni in October and November, said Doreen O'Skea, the university's director of alumni relations.

"Oregon is known for its draft beers, and we thought, we have such a bounty of goodness here in the Rogue Valley, why not take advantage of that bounty?" she said.

The brewery and university are working on an agreement that would allow the beer to be served from kegs in Ashland bars and restaurants as early as January, said Tom Hammond, owner and president of Southern Oregon Brewing Co.

"We're working on branding this beer as a draft SOU beer to be sold at select bars and restaurants in the Ashland community," he said.

The SOU beer is a spin-off of the brewery's Woodshed Red draft, he said. Hammond describes the beer as "a robust northwest red with a hearty malt backbone." It's "generously hopped" and has an alcohol content of 6.3 percent, he said. The beer has hints of malted wheat and flaked oats, which are used in the brewing process.

O'Skea, who has a home brewery, came up with the idea to create an SOU beer in July, she said. She called Carrie Dixon, who graduated from SOU in 1999 and works as the brewery's marketing director.

"I said, 'Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could have a brew for SOU?'" O'Skea said. "And a few weeks later, the brewery called and said, 'Come and taste this.'"

Another SOU alumnus, Gregory Martin, an SOU graphic designer who graduated in 1984, created the label for the beer. The label shows the silhouette of an eagle and includes both SOU and the brewery's logos.

SOU officials and alumni have been excited to try the beer at the two recent events where it was featured, O'Skea said.

"We served it at the State of the University address for faculty and staff, and we had a longer line for the beer than for wine or cheese or cupcakes," she said. "Many of them wanted to keep the bottle."

Community members have expressed interest in buying the beer, O'Skea said.

"People said they want to be able to buy it, and that will be the next step, to see if we can have local restaurants serve Raider Red beer," she said.

The Raider Red project is not designed to encourage excessive drinking among students, a problem at many college campuses, O'Skea said.

"I don't think that we're encouraging drinking, I think we're encouraging supporting local businesses and encouraging people to consume responsibly," she said. "We're not having Animal House-like parties with this beer and we're using only OLCC (Oregon Liquor Control Commission) certified servers."

There is no monetary agreement between SOU and Southern Oregon Brewing, said SOU spokesman Jim Beaver. SOU paid wholesale price for the initial 50 cases.

O'Skea said she'd like to collaborate with more local businesses to create SOU-specific products.

"Ideally, I'd like to be able to have a Raider aspect of all of our local cuisine," she said.

Contact reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.

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