By Sam Wheeler
School spirit has never tasted so good at Southern Oregon University in Ashland.
Medford-based Southern Oregon Brewing Company recently teamed with the university’s Alumni Association to craft a mascot-spirited, easy-drinking, Northwest-style red ale that’s malty smooth with a subtle hoppy smack.
“It’s a beer that primarily has appeal here in Southern Oregon. My goal for this whole project was to cross market and support our local college,” said Tom Hammond, founder and owner of Southern Oregon Brewing Co.
Of course, “it’s a great beer,” Hammond said. “Generously hopped with a decent backbone and it’s a pretty beer—has nice coloration.”
The 22-ounce bottles of Raider Red Ale and its custom tap handle are emblazoned with the school’s name and Red-Tailed Hawk logo and the beer represents a blossoming marketing avenue for SOU, said Alumni Affairs Director Mike Beagle.
“I’ve had a couple of SOB beers, but this is my favorite. We’re excited about it and it’s really been popular at tailgating events,” Beagle said. “For us, this was a way to get our logo and our spirit mark out there. I think it’s something that adds a touch of class to what we do.”
The school’s Alumni Association and SOB came together for a small production run of the ale in 2011, Hammond said. But legal red tape associated with having the school’s name tied to the adult beverage didn’t pan out, so a larger run was put on hold. Once Beagle kicked the project back into gear and the beer’s licensing agreement was sorted out a few months ago, Hammond received the go-ahead to start crafting Raider Red once again.
In a month, the brewery has turned out two batches of Raider Red Ale for a total of 60 barrels, said Hammond. Most of that has already been assigned to a store shelf or tap handle in Southern Oregon. It’s one of the most popular beers at SOB’s tap room, said bartender Katie Savacool. Another perk for registered SOU grads is a 25 percent discount at the SOB tap house, Hammond said.
“It looks like a beer that’s going to have some legs,” Hammond said.
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