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If LSU Can Do It... The Time Has Come For a U of M Beer

There are so many reasons to be thankful for our friends in Baton Rouge. First, they keep Les Miles employed and safely away from the sidelines of Michigan Stadium. Second, creole cooking. Third, chicks, obv. Now there is a fourth. Beer.

Louisiana State University announced Wednesday that it has partnered with Tin Roof Brewing Co. of Baton Rouge to produce an officially licensed LSU branded beer. The specifics on the beer itself are fairly bland, a blonde ale (meh), that will be available in bottles, draught, and (hopefully) cans. The specifics about how this came about, are not.

Tin Roof Brewing was actually a LSU small business incubator company, and rolled out its first beers in November of 2010. Not only were they good at pitching their brewery to the school, they were good at pitching the concept of beer as a business and agricultural discipline. According to Business Week:

University food science professors worked with Tin Roof on the recipe for the new beer, the professors will help with brewing and quality control measures, and students will be taught classes in fermentation science at the brewery starting this fall, McGehee said Wednesday.

Business students already have worked on branding, imaging and marketing for the new beer, said Charles D'Agostino, executive director of the LSU Louisiana Business and Technology Center, the incubator that helped Tin Roof start its business.

"This is a very good project, and it's got all the necessary ingredients for success," D'Agostino said. "We are very optimistic that this will be a good partnership for us."

Another sign that the business school was involved is the roll out date: the beer will be on store shelves and in bars by September or October at the latest. LSU will, of course, get royalties off the beer sales and will sanction the use of its logo and branding on the beer. Just so we're clear, this isn't new ground for major public universities.

The University of California, Davis has a winery, brewery and food-processing research and teaching complex. D'Agostino said colleges in Oregon and Washington also both have relationships with wine-making and beer-making operations.

Beer is one of the biggest, best run, and critical American enterprises. MillerCoors net income in the first quarter of 2010 was $217 MILLION, and that's in a depressed market caused by economic uncertainty. According to UC Davis, 2.5 Million people are employed in the brewing industry, and that's not counting the untold numbers of distributors, shops, bars, etc. that fuel the American economy in some way.

The point being it's time for Michigan to establish it's own brewery.

more after the jump....

Not just for the fun of branding and booze, but because this is a critical American enterprise that has been wrongfully neglected and shunned by academia. Brewing beer deals with all kinds of necessary disciplines in business: marketing, research and development, logistics, employment, liability, etc. Further, it is an industry that the great state of Michigan excels at. Michigan currently sports over 80 different, viable breweries which are producing some of the best tasting and creative beers on the planet. Further, interest and taste for Michigan craft beer is growing everywhere. According to MLive:

The Chicago-based Symphony IRI Group, which tracks industry statistics, reports sales of Michigan craft beer in the state’s supermarkets has almost doubled from $11.2 million in 2007 to $22 million last year. That’s a good chunk of the nearly $30 million increase (to $273 million) in overall beer sales in the same period.

This is a growing, important industry that Michigan should be involved in. When Bell's Brewery is putting $52 Million into its future, and even small breweries like Short's are putting up $1.4 Million. Brewing beer is as much a part of Michigan as cars, summers in the north, and football Saturday. Louisiana has just a paltry 13 breweries and they're ahead of us on this!? It's time to recognize that Wolverines should be leading the way in this industry and establish it's own brewery.

Plus, wouldn't it be great to have a tasty beverage, made by your beloved university at your pre-game tailgate?

Yes. Yes it would.