While college students drinking beer might surprise no one, college students making beer is perhaps a little more unexpected.
But that’s exactly what Marquette University seniors Grace Pionek, Connor Nelson, Will Dales and Jackson Cosgriff have done as the leaders of Blue & Gold Brewing LLC, a student-run business that’s part of an undergraduate applied learning program in Marquette University’s College of Business Administration.
The students partnered with three MU alumni who are active in craft brewing in Milwaukee to create ’77 Golden Ale, which will be released on National Marquette Day, Saturday, Feb. 4.
The name, of course, is a reference to the university’s NCAA men’s basketball title of 1977, under legendary head coach Al McGuire.
Every year, via the applied learning program, a group of students lead a venture that includes a required public service campaign, which, in this case, will involve the participating breweries – Broken Bat, Gathering Place and Good City – in promoting responsible drinking.
“This unique opportunity came from a group of Marquette alumni who lead craft breweries in Milwaukee and who have a keen interest in engaging with Marquette students to create a product to be enjoyed on National Marquette Day,” said John Knapp, executive director of Marquette’s Innovation Alley.
“This type of innovative and immersive educational experience for our students is an example of how Marquette Business provides students with industry-driven transformational opportunities.”
The limited-edition 4.5 percent ABV beer will be sold at Fiserv Forum, the Marquette alumni party at MECCA in the Deer District, Broken Bat, both Gathering Place taprooms and all four Good City locations.
“The concept was created by yours truly back in May 2022,” says Broken Bat’s Tim Pauly, “and I got a few folks higher up at Marquette to take a meeting to explore the potential of creating a beer that's associated with Marquette, while not just being a beer that we slap an MU logo on, but rather including students and the University in the process to help connect the current student body with the many proud Alum around the city and country!
“The idea was to lean into local brewery owners who are also MU Alum, and over the course of about six months, we met with a four-student cohort and created a brand and beer that we thought would hit home with the MU community.”
Pauly says that the golden ale recipe was selected to be the most accessible.
“(They) chose the style based on the brand that we wanted to achieve, and also one that would appeal to the widest audience possible,” he says. “So after a night of tasting several different golden ales, cream ales, pilsners, etc., the team decided that a golden ale best fit their goals so we went with that!”
The three breweries collaborated on the recipe and brewing it, along with the students.
“The four students did ALL of the heavy lifting,” says Pauly. “There were countless meetings, beer tasting nights, conversations, etc.”
Two 20-barrel batches were brewed at Good City on Milwaukee’s East Side.
“Brew Day was super exciting, and all of the students helped,” says Pauly. “A bunch of MU representatives including President Mike Lovell were there for part of the morning as well.”
The beer will be available while supplies last.
But, says Pauly, there is talk of a second batch coming for retail in a few weeks.
I asked Pauly if his good friend – and UW grad – Dan Abel at Pilot Project, with whom he has a good-natured college pride rivalry, is planning a Badger beer in response.
“I have it on good authority that the Badgers are already trying to recreate the project sooner than later,” he says with a laugh. “I’m just glad we got to it first!”
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.