Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


What’s On Tap: University of Wisconsin’s first campus-crafted beer debuts at Memorial Union

Wisconsin Brewing Company paired with food science department students to create balanced lager Inaugural Red
Photo contributed by Noah Williamson Photography
The whole gang celebrating campus craft

If you’ve been to the Terrace since May 1, you may have noticed a Wisconsin Brewing Company’s new brew on tap. It’s quite distinct: cardinal red, shaped like the state of Wisconsin.

What you can’t gather from the tap handle is that the brew — dubbed Inaugural Red — was the product of three food science students who were part of Campus Craft, a collaboration between University of Wisconsin’s Department of Food Science and the Wisconsin Brewing Company.

Last May, Kirby Nelson, brewmaster at Wisconsin Brewing Company, suggested asking students to brew beer for a competition. Those in the Food Science Department and WBC discussed the idea and as Nelson put it, “The rest is tasty history.”


David Ryder of MillerCoors said the entire process was like an education in a 16-ounce glass. The students had to combine science and creativity to create an artistic beer — something homebrewers spend years trying to master.

But the student interaction didn’t stop there; School of Business members helped market the beer and opening event.

Producing beer is more than just discipline, according to Nelson, and the team caught the spirit of it all perfectly. They worked together to bring a brew to market on an industrial scale.

While everyone in the class worked to brew the beer, only three students can call it their own.

Andrew Lefeber, Sean Hinds and Paige Wolff came up for the Inaugural Red recipe during a class-wide competition earlier this year.

“It was a day dream turned reality,” Lefeber said. “When they told us we were the winner, I was taken aback.”

During the celebration, Nelson said he wished the first beer he formulated had tasted as good as the Inaugural Red.

And Memorial Union is not the only place you can try a sip of their experimental brew — multiple locations around Wisconsin and Northern Illinois now offer Inaugural Red.

For this week’s column, I relaxed by Lake Mendota while trying Madison’s campus-crafted beer, Inaugural Red.


Amber Lager, 5.5 ABV percent.


Toasty malt with slight floral and pine smell from the hops.


Pours copper settling with a distinguished red hue and thin, off-white head.


Full-bodied, but proportional.


Exceptional balance of hops and malts. Malts hit the taste buds first with a slight caramel flavor, and hops ride down your throat with a slight citrus tones.

Room Temp Taste

Slightly more citrus while retaining the balance.


This type of uniform beer beginners practice endlessly to create. It brings me great joy knowing these students have brewed something honest, pure and balanced so early in their brewing careers. I have no doubt they will begin experimenting with more interesting brews. This truly couldn’t be a better balanced lager.

My Rating: 4 out of 5

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