CSU’s ‘Spark of Genius’ team toast their creation that’s part of Lazy Dog’s college brews beer club collection

CSU's brew crew which invented 'Spark of Genius' for Lazy Dog's beer club.

Spark of Genius can

Spark of Genius, a beer created by Colorado State University students for the Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar, has been released into the brew-niverse.

Though it was on tap in Colorado only at Lazy Dog’s restaurants — the closest location to CSU is in Westminster — the Fermentation Science and Technology (FST) Brewing Science 2 team is stoked that its creation was tapped.

The tea-infused beverage was part of Lazy Dog’s “Mad Science!” collection of four beers brewed by university students. The beers were rolled out to those who signed up for the beer club this past summer.

Spark of Genius (ABV 5.5%/IBU: 26) is an extra special bitter ale with leaves of Earl Grey tea. Ingredients such as grist-English pale malt, chocolate and the tea give what Lazy Dog says is a “caramel sweetness and mild tannic bitterness.”

A toast for the ‘Mad Scientists’

The brewing team was treated to a Nov. 1 VIP dinner and sipped its own creation at Lazy Dog Orchard Town Center, where they toasted to their success. The students got a commemorative glass and an eight-pack of all the “Mad Science” beers.

Lazy Dog also is donating $1,000 per year for five years to the FST program and have opened up donations from its Beer Club members for additional scholarship support. A newsletter will highlight CSU alumni and where they land in their brewing careers.

“My favorite part was the recipe development, doing sensory (experiments) on different tea options and dosing amounts to see what would work best in the style of beer we were looking to produce,” said Matt Scherff, an FST outstanding graduate. “There were lots of options, and being able to start from scratch and make the recipe however we wanted was an awesome experience.”

The 'Mad Science' collection of beer club brews at Lazy Dog.

Inspiration and experimentation

Jeff Biegert, FST instructor and brewmaster, said CSU’s inspiration for the mad scientist theme was James Prescott Joule, an English scientist and brewer.

“The biggest energy consumer in the brewing process is really the kettle where you boil, right?” Biegert said. “There’s a lot of heat energy, and one way to measure that is with the Joule.

“Mr. Joule happened to be a British person who came up with this measurement of the Joule. And so (the students), naturally, said if this is an English scientist, he would like to have tea. And so this is a beer that has tea in it.”

Besides brewing each university’s beer at Melvin Brewing in Alpine, Wyoming, the Lazy Dog Beer Club donated $1,000 to each of the schools for scholarships that will assist students pursuing careers in brewing professions.

“We’re so excited to partner with the next generation of brewers at each of these universities,” said John Williams, chief marketing officer for Lazy Dog Restaurant. “Each of the schools has excellent brewing programs, and every student and professor involved brought a unique perspective to the table. We can’t wait for our members and guests to have a taste.”

Reading the tea leaves'Mad Science' beers part of Lazy Dog's college brews collection.

The FST team learned how to dig into another aspect of brewing science.

“My favorite learning moment was incorporating the tea, not only to achieve tea flavor, but also to troubleshoot the inherent chemistry of tea leaves,”  CSU student Kenzie Gonzales said. “Tea leaves contribute an interesting bitterness; therefore we took that into consideration when constructing our hop bill, in order to avoid over-bittering the beer.

“Similarly, tea contributes a color to the final product, so we were able to measure the color of the tea in using the spectrophotometer to achieve the color for a stylistically correct ESB. That is just the tip of the iceberg, but the main takeaway is that everything in brewing has a solution.”

Team members were grateful for the chance to work with Lazy Dog and learn not just about science, but about the naming and marketing of a beer.

“As part of the marketing team, some of the most useful skills we gained from this was how to collaborate with one another creatively,” CSU student Tomas Munoz said. “From the start there were so many different — and all fantastic — ideas for this beer.

“Only after getting together, having meetings and thinking of each idea from multiple angles were we able to compile our ideas into the beer we tapped into.”

The Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.

FST and Lazy Dog logosSpark of Genius tasting notes

  • Visual: Deep ruby amber color, clear with off white head of thick foam that lingers. 
  • Aroma: Roasty, coffee, dark chocolate, burnt sugar, white pepper, cherry, ethyl hexanoate, licorice, grainy, peanut brittle with dry leaf and damp earthy notes.
  • Taste: Caramel sweetness, mild tannic bitterness.
  • Mouthfeel/Body: medium body with smooth malty coating mouthfeel, finishes with drying tannic notes.
  • Overall Sensory: Rich and roasty with caramel and treacle and drying earthy notes, tea comes through but not overpowering, balanced.

Lazy Dog Beer Club

  • Lazy Dog has more than 40 locations nationally, including three restaurants near Denver and one in Colorado Springs. The nearest Lazy Dog to Fort Collins is at 14618 Delaware St. in Westminster, Colorado. (Lazy Dog Bar and Grill in Johnstown is not affiliated with Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar)
  • Beer club members can pick up their first eight-pack of Lazy Dog house craft beer at Lazy Dog locations.
  • Members receive specific instructions via email of when to pick up their quarterly eight-pack (Two cans of each style, a glass, and an informational booklet).
  • Non-members were able to order the beers in 16- and 22-ounce pours on draft at most Lazy Dog Restaurant locations.