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Only the Cool Survive
Only the Cool Survive

Co-branded cold ones, coffee, and chocolate give a jolt to a university’s annual fund

By Toni Coleman

Humboldt State University

Sometimes alumni's warm and fuzzy memories are not only about their alma mater but about the local community. So when Humboldt State University partnered with area businesses to produce branded ale, coffee, and chocolate, alumni were thrilled.

The partnerships began when the California institution tapped local breweries to create specialty beers for the university's 2013 centennial. Lost Coast Brewery's Big Axe Ale, Mad River Brewing Company's Hibiscus Centennial Ale, Redwood Curtain Brewing Company's Centennial Jack Pale Ale, and Six Rivers Brewery's Tin Pants Ale were also sold separately, expanding Humboldt's outreach and name recognition.

Frank Whitlatch, associate vice president of advancement, compares the joining of brands to superhero collaborations: "The Hulk is cool. The Wolverine is cool. When they come together in one comic book, it's extra cool."

After the centennial, Lost Coast, which employs several alumni, suggested creating a second beer, with a portion of the proceeds going to the university's annual fund.

Humboldt agreed and expects to receive up to $10,000 annually from the sale of Lost Coast's Big Axe IPA.

Humboldt has approved two other specialty products, with some revenue going to the university. Old Town Coffee & Chocolates produces the All-Nighter blend, an organic coffee that, according to the label, is "perfect for students who foolishly pursued procrastination, or anyone else needing a great-tasting boost."

There's also the Humboldt State University Special Edition Bar, produced by Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate, which is owned by two alumni. The secret ingredient: "Slug Slime." That's the collection of toppings, including sesame seeds, onion, and poppy seeds, that local bakery Los Bagels bottles up and sells when they fall off of its Slug bagels during cooking.

Says Whitlatch, "We want great partnerships that have a really cool story. We're not going for volume here."

About the Author Toni Coleman

Toni Coleman is the interim editor in chief of Currents.




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