Students craft signature beer for SFU

Of the four teams, “The Explorer” emerged victorious with its innovative business plan. - Brandon Hillier
Of the four teams, “The Explorer” emerged victorious with its innovative business plan. - Brandon Hillier
Of the four teams, “The Explorer” emerged victorious with its innovative business plan. – Brandon Hillier

SFU students brewed up some healthy competition last Friday in a craft beer marketing contest held by SFU and Central City Brewing and Distilling.

As part of its plan to launch the Simon Fraser Brewing and Distilling Corporation this spring, the two organizations launched a competition to design the first brand of beer sold by Fraser Brewing.

The competition asked entrants to design “light lager that is easy-drinking, ‘gateway’ beer” meant to guide customers who tend to drink “mainstream” beer into the craft beer market. The beer also had to cost less than $10 per six pack of cans.

Tim Barnes, VP of Marketing and Sales for Central City and one of the judges, said that the goal of the night was “to engage with the student population, to get an idea and a plan together for the new beer.” He continued, “We wanted to integrate with students and have students give us their ideas on what they thought would be great beer.”

Barnes was joined on the judging panel by Steve Dooley, executive director of SFU Surrey, Mike Volker, executive director of SFU’s Innovation Office, Darryl Frost, the founder and CEO of Central City, and Gary Lohen, the Central City Brew Master.

The contest’s conclusion was held at the SFU Surrey Campus Mezzanine on last Friday, following a week of presentations by the competitors. The week highlighted the work participants had done over the past months, and they were evaluated based on four criteria.

First, a business plan submission that detailed product category, the target consumer, and recommendations on the product’s price, promotion, placement and packaging.

Second, a 10 to 15 minute presentation for the judges’ panel. Third, a creative concept — a “brand idea and story behind the beer” — to give the product a unique flavour. And fourth, a creative brand name for the beer.

Four groups presented in the finals on March 27: Beaver Lager, Semester Ale, The Explorer, and one team that presented two beers, Slackline Lager and Frisbee Ale. Overall, Barnes said that The Explorer team stood out for their comprehensive business package.

The Explorer team was comprised of students Carmen Javier, Tiana Lo, Jagroop Gossal, and Muhammad Atif Saad, all of whom are students in event organizer and SFU professor Sarah Lubnik’s BUS 338 Foundations of Innovation course. According to Lubnik, the team “played on Simon Fraser’s importance in BC history at the same time as referencing SFU’s image as a campus of explorers and adventurers.”

“We still may not use the exact name of the beer, but we liked their plan. Their plan was really good,” commented Barnes. “The competition was less about the beer name and more about building a really strong business plan.”

The Explorer was not the only winner, as Barnes stated that the runner-up presented a “great beer label design, which we may actually use.”

The Simon Fraser Brewing and Distilling Corporation will now move into production of its first beer, and is already planning to release a second beer in 2016.