Now brewing: A partnership to create tomorrow’s craft brewers

SOURCE: Shutterstock
NC State is getting its own beer and industry support for its fermentation science programme.

By U2B Staff 

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Everything is possible in the world of university-business collaborations.

Some collaborations focus on advancing new technologies or unraveling new mysteries, others on building new facilities or improving existing ones. 

In the US this week, North Carolina State University (NC State) announced a new type of partnership–one you can drink. 

The school said it is getting its very own beer, thanks to a new deal with the New Belgium Brewing Company, one of the largest craft breweries in America.

Come early August, the NC State-themed Old Tuffy Premium Lager will make its debut in 12- and 19.2-ounce cans, as well as in draft, in restaurants, grocery, convenience and beer stores across the state.

With 4.7 percent alcohol content, Old Tuffy will be a light-bodied, all-malt American lager, the perfect game-day companion for when the football season begins. 

The deal will run for five years, with an option for renewal for a further five years.

And it could not have come at a better time: just last week, the state made it legal for colleges to sell alcohol at its sports venues. NC State’s Board of Trustees will discuss the matter at its next meeting this July 10.

What does the university get in return for granting New Belgium the license to brew its beer? Plenty.

And it’s more than having the NC State Wolfpack’s red-and-white insignia plastered across beer cans.


According to the university, a small portion of proceeds from the sale of Old Tuffy will go towards the university.

In addition to that, New Belgium will also participate in research projects to help the university further develop its fermentation science programme. 

NC State is one of the few universities in the country to offer a brewing program, as well as its own brewery. The agreement with New Belgium will see the firm provide student support opportunities such as internships and traineeships, offering hands-on experience for those looking to make a career in the brewing industry.

The collaboration also includes job placement opportunities for NC State students, as well as New Belgium’s involvement in executive-level leadership speaker events.

On top of all that, New Belgium will be partnering with the university to develop a student-focused “Responsible Consumption of Alcohol” programme.

“We are excited to launch this collaboration with New Belgium and pleased to partner with an industry leader that is dedicated to supporting NC State’s academic excellence and that also shares our values of innovation, a commitment to sustainability and the importance of community service,” said Chancellor Randy Woodson. 

By supporting student success initiatives at NC State, he added, the partnership will help create the future leaders of North Carolina’s robust craft beer industry. 

North Carolina has the most number of craft breweries in the American south. Source: Shutterstock

North Carolina takes its craft beer seriously. The state is home to the largest number of craft breweries in the American South with over 300 breweries and brewpubs, according to the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild.

Valued at an estimated US$2 billion, the industry also supports over 10,000 jobs and accounts for more than US$300 million in annual wages.


New Belgium first started in Colorado in 1991 but in an effort to grow its national presence, expanded to Asheville in 2015. According to The News & Observer, the firm is currently the country’s fourth largest independent craft brewery.

Steve Fechheimer, the company’s CEO, said the firm is committed to playing an active role in the North Carolina community. The partnership with NC State is an example of this commitment.

“At New Belgium, we pride ourselves on proving that business can be a force for good,” he said.

“Supporting the education of innovative and creative minds in North Carolina embodies that spirit and further shows our commitment to the State. We couldn’t be more excited to be working with NC State.”