Toasting 150 years, Virginia Tech and Hardywood introduce new amber ale to the market
Now available, All Hail to Thee is the second beer developed by Virginia Tech researchers in partnership with Hardywood Park Craft Brewery. The amber ale can be purchased at select Krogers, Giants, Wegmans , Total Wines, and independent bottle shops in Virginia.
The new ale follows the success of the first Virginia Tech-Hardywood beer that was introduced to the market last spring. Fightin' Hokies Lager, a classic Munich-style Helles lager, was the best-selling new craft beer in Virginia in 2021, according to Nielsen.
“I am proud of our faculty’s creativity and the support of LINK + LICENSE + LAUNCH team that helped unite Virginia Tech with Hardywood in this unique partnership, which has brought not one but now two Hokie beers to market that contribute to Virginia’s economy,” said Senior Vice President of Research and Innovation Dan Sui. “Virginia Tech and Hardywood have established one of the most successful university-brewery partnerships in the country to date with the launch of Fightin’ Hokies Lager being one of the highest-grossing collaborations of its kind.”
Developed to celebrate Virginia Tech’s 150th anniversary, the limited edition beer, All Hail to Thee, is a hoppy, full-bodied American amber ale-style beer brewed with Virginia-grown malted barley and wheat. The malt base is a mixture of pale, Munich, and wheat malts designed to highlight the unique nutty and chewy characteristics of Virginia-bred and grown malts. The hopping schedule allows for a balanced hop bitterness (20-23 IBU) and hop aroma forward of resinous, pine, and fruity flavors from Chinook, Sultana and Altus hops, while allowing the malt character to come through.
"We are thrilled to be able to honor Virginia Tech’s Sesquicentennial Celebration the best way we know how — with the release of a new, limited edition beer in partnership with Hardywood,” said Renee Boyer, head of the Department of Food Science and Technology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “In addition to the joy of seeing a new beer in Hokie hands, we’re excited that proceeds for both beers continue to provide scholarships for our students and enable the expansion of research programs in our highly regarded food science and technology program.”
Virginia Tech faculty members and brew masters behind the two Virginia Tech beer recipes — Herbert Bruce, Sean O’Keefe, and Brian Wiersema — worked with regional maltsters on developing a unique malt blend of Munich-style malt and wheat, which provides the color and clean, malt backbone for the ale, before turning it over to Hardywood to fine-tune and produce.
Hardywood’s credo “Brew with Purpose” encompasses core values that include technical quality, environmental stewardship, sourcing local, and brewing with Virginia-sourced hops, malted barley, wheat, and a variety of other locally sourced ingredients.
“All of the malts and wheat used in the new ale were grown and sourced from Virginia barley and wheat growers and then locally malted,” said Bruce. “One of our maltsters is in Virginia, and the other maltster is in North Carolina.”
“For the ale, the flavor and color matching alone took several iterations for the malt side of the recipe,” said Wiersema. “Blending and determining hop additions for this beer was perhaps even more difficult. We worked with new and old style North American hop varieties in various stages of the brewing process to allow those wonderful hop aromas to shine but not hide the historical malt base of the beer.”
“The All Hail to Thee amber ale beer is very different from the helles style of the Fightin’ Hokies Lager, which is very much a session-type beer,” said O’Keefe. “It’s exciting to me that we're able to make these different beer styles and provide them to Hokies who are interested in different beer styles.”
The researchers did indeed hit the mark. The amber ale is the perfect beverage to toast the university’s legacy.
“The smiles on happy Hokies’ faces when they realize that their dream of having a hoppier beer has come true,” O’Keefe said.
In fall 2020, Virginia Tech announced a sustainable partnership with Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, reaffirming the university’s land-grant mission to transition world-class faculty-led research and development to market and provide economic benefits to the commonwealth. In this case, the result was a proprietary craft beer recipe developed by Virginia Tech researchers and produced and marketed by Hardywood.