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Wednesday 24 March 2010

Task for today- Get students interested in craft beer

When I woke up this morning I felt inspired. I have no idea why, I just did. Its been playing on my mind for a while; When I get back to University in September how can I get other students interested and involved in craft beer and real ale?

For some of you, you may think the question of how to get students interested in alcohol is a silly one. It is infact much harder than you think though when you consider the masses of drinks promotions that are thrown at students on every night of the week to attract the student pound. Afterall we have all seen the horrific binge drink statistics for 18-25 year olds (however wrong these are). The task though is to get young drinkers to switch from a pint of stella for £2.25 in the Union for a bottle of something made by craft brewers that tastes of something. Do not get me wrong, I do not want my horse to be too high. I know that some people simply prefer a pint of fizzy blandness. The same way that I might prefer a bottle of Lambic to a bottle of Mild. So the most important thing I need to remember when I start on my crusade is that not everyone will jump on the bandwagon.

The first step is to set up a craft beer society with the university officially. This is something I started today and we will be officially called 'Stirling University Craft Beer Society'. I have avoided the use of 'real ale society' for two reasons;
1) We have previously had a group called SURAS and they vanished off the face of the earth due to a mix of bad management and people moving on
2)Students invariably associate the term 'real ale' with socks and sandals, if you know what I mean

So I have now set the ball rolling and through a dedicated team of students at SUCBS I hope that we can get a few more people convinced that the best beer in the world is not infact a 'Danish' lager marketed in green. We plan to do brewery tours, beer swaps, craft beer campaigns (alongside national groups), beer tastings, pub tours and much more. Its my challenge for the next year at uni (along with my degree of course).

I will let you all know how it goes.

p.s if anyone has experience in this sort of thing leave a comment or email me at michael at

pss We are looking for Brewery sponsorship/association if anyone is interested please email me at the above address


  1. Craft beer is a stupid term. It doesn't mean anything in a UK context. What's wrong with Good Beer?

  2. I think it does mean something in a UK context. Even if it isnt as widely used as it is elsewhere I think it still conveys the right meaning. 'Good Beer' is all fair and well but I find that 'Craft Beer' gives a closer reflexion of the group that we are setting up. As of two hours ago we had one member, me. We now have 20 and thats just from a small Scottish uni.

    I dont think craft beer is a stupid term at all, yeah it is more often used outside the UK but I dont see why it cant be used

  3. Good luck with getting it going. I know a lot of unis have them and some are really successful. We had one when I was at uni but we never went along - we went to the pub instead! I went to Royal Holloway and it was a beer wasteland. Thankfully they brought in Newkie Brown for the beginning of my second year and a handpull was installed in another bar, but that wasn't particularly good.

    I'm with you on the craft beer thing and it does mean something in the UK.

  4. We use a different definition of 'real ale' to CAMRA for our site. I wonder whether we suffer from the 'socks and sandals' perception? Hopefully the colours of our website help a little!

  5. What does craft beer mean in the UK then? And what's the opposite of craft beer?

  6. @ Mark, Real-Ale Reviews

    You do use a different definition and the colours do take away from that 'socks and sandals' image. I think for us being a student body and trying to get a young market interested in trying different beers it was important to distance ourselves as much as possible from the stereotypical CAMRA image (as true or untrue as it may be).

    I think craft beer does mean a lot in the UK. Whether it is a term widely used by brewers or not, it doesnt really take a lot of thought to come up with the kinds of ideas it provokes. When I think of craft beer I think of beer that takes time to make, tastes of some substancial flavours, is likely made by a micro and so on. I would generally say that the opposite of craft beer would be mass produced beer. This is the point of the group, to steer people away from a pint of cheap lager thats made in 9 days (ie Tennents) and get them to drink something that is made well (ie craft beer).

    Whether its a term that has much use yet in the UK or not, I can see your point. Everything has to start somewhere though and I think its a term that will be more and more prevalent.

    On the plus side we have managed to sign up 41 craft beer lovers in one day which now makes us a sizable society in a small university.

  7. Well done on taking the initiative with this and on your success on getting 41 members when you're not even halfway through your first day of existance! And I'd say Stirling's location makes a perfect base too - plenty of brewery trips you can do by public transport or SU minibus - Bridge of Allan/TSA, Williams Bros, up to the Lade Inn, away trips to Edinburgh & Glasgow, as well as no doubt widespread BrewDog distribution. Good luck on increasng cask ale's profile within the Uni as well - perhaps you could get the SU interested in a beer festival, or if they have got a handpump or two and know how to use it, see if they could get in some guest beers / a beer brewed specially for the Uni?
    I'm sure you have many big plans - wish I'd known about real ale when I was at Uni (didn't grow up with it in NI so was mostly a cider drinker then), I'd have wanted to do something similar!

  8. @ Tania
    Thanks for the comment. We've got loads of exciting things planned. Our main target for the year is really to get more people interested in real ale and to get the union to wake up and give us a handpump. They need to know that we dont all settle for John Smiths seven days a week.

    A beer made by us and for the Uni is one of the plans and I am just about to start talks with Bridge of Allan about this.

    There will be lots of great brewery trips and also we have the guys at MyBreweryTap sending us some beer too so its all looking good and we have only existed for a day!

    Who knows Stirling might acutally get a beer festival out of all of this!

  9. Let me know in advance if you do get a festival underway - I can go and stay with my wee bro and help out (or at least, help out with the drinking ;-)

  10. Certainly will do! If we get to the stage of actually being able to host a festival I will be shouting from the rooftops about it!

  11. Good luck getting this off the ground. I was planning on doing this at Glasgow university but I could never devote enough time to it. Now in my fourth year I'm a little late. You guys thought about doing some home brewing in your club or would this be beer drinking only?

  12. Nah we will be homebrewing too. Just have to arrange some of the finer details as technically the home brewing aspect of club membership cannot happen in University owned rooms.

    We will get round it though. Also it looks like we will have a link with a local brewery where we might be able to brew our own



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