Ramskeller teaching brewery taps first beer in time for CSU Homecoming

The inaugural beer produced in the new Ramskeller teaching brewery at Colorado State University hit pint glasses just in time for Homecoming and Family Weekend.

Student brewers, faculty, local brewers, members of the media, donors and other friends of the Fermentation Science and Technology Program gathered at the pub in the lower level of CSU’s Lory Student Center Oct. 12 to toast the first brew, dubbed “Homecoming ‘Ale-umni’ Golden Ale.”

Pear, tropical fruit

“The CSU Ramskeller Brewery’s Homecoming ‘Ale-umni’ Golden Ale combines the inviting and complex aromas of classic top-fermented ale with the smooth, crisp drinkability of a lager,” said Jeff Biegert, brewmaster for the FST Program. “Subtle pear and delicate tropical fruit notes combine with a clean malt flavor and a light floral hop aroma.”

He said the beer was hand-crafted with local barley grown and malted by a fifth-generation family farm in Loveland. The 11 kegs of the brew is only available at the Ramskeller for a limited time.

Jeff Callaway, associate director of the FST program, said he snuck a taste of the beer to Charlie Papazian, founder of the Great American Beer Festival, who was on campus Oct. 10 for a talk on the history of homebrewing. Papazian thought it was delicious and said he wouldn’t change a thing, Callaway said.

About the new beer

Below are more details about the first beer from the new teaching brewery:

  • Color: Light Golden
  • Aroma: Light pear, delicate fruits with floral notes
  • Flavor: Balanced malt and hop character, smooth with clean finish
  • ABV: 5.6%
  • IBU: 21
  • Malt: Locally grown & malted Pils, Munich and Wheat
  • Hops: Nugget, Hallertau Mittelfruh and Tettnang

“This was a test beer — there was no guarantee it was going to see the light of day,” Callaway explained. “On Monday, when we filtered it, we knew it was going to be good. We were high-fiving and elated. That’s when it went from ‘test beer’ to ‘Yes, we’re serving this.’”

The state-of-the-art teaching brewery opened in April and is being used to train FST students on the high-tech equipment used by modern breweries large and small.

Signed bag of malt
Those who worked on the first brew signed this bag of malt from Root Shoot Malting in Loveland.

Oct. 18 anniversary celebrations

The tapping party kicked off a week that will feature additional beer-related celebrations. On Oct. 18 at the Ramskeller, there will be a 50th anniversary celebration of both the student pub and the 1968 “Drink-In” or “Beer-In” — the student protest that led to the pub’s creation.

From noon to 5 p.m., the Ramskeller will be offering beer specials on not just the new “Ale-umni” Golden Ale, but two special 50th anniversary brews from New Belgium Brewing and Odell Brewing. The former has created a “Pumpkin and Ale-falfa Ale” that incorporates the October gourd and honey from alfalfa-loving bees, while Odell produced “Skellerbration,” a lavender-cream ale inspired by the short-lived graduation colors chosen by CSU’s class of 1896, according to Pete Andrews, Ramskeller manager. There will be prize drawings every hour beginning at 12:50 p.m., as well as free cake.

Then, from 5 to 7 p.m., the Department of History, History Club and Associated Students of Colorado State University will welcome back to campus members of the group that led the “Drink-In” protest in 1968 to argue for stronger student rights — including 3.2 percent beer served at the student center. The protest sparked discussions with campus and city leaders that not only led to beer being served on campus, but contributed to the city’s decision to lift its own prohibition on alcohol stronger than 3.2 beer. Speakers at the program, which is also being held at the Ramskeller, will include student leaders who helped organize the protest.

The Fermentation Science and Technology Program is in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences. The Department of History is in the College of Liberal Arts.