Like many colleges around the country, the University of South Florida St. Petersburg community appreciates its beer.
But the passion for hops and barley doesn’t fall into the tailgate party category. An academic tie to science students and a growing internship program with local craft brewers led the school to create a commemorative libation for its golden anniversary.
Local craft beer fans are probably familiar with Three Daughters Brewing and the St. Petersburg based company's flagship Beach Blonde Ale, but it'll soon be marketed under a different name as "Bayboro Blonde Ale," after the harbor that USF St. Pete surrounds.
Three Daughters owner Leigh Harding said since her company opened two years ago, they’ve teamed up with the university on a number of projects. It all started with USFSP chemistry professor Jim Leonard, she said.
"Jim came over to initially just help us spec out our lab, ended up helping us create an internship program for our craft brew lab, and we have anywhere from three to six people that come and work from the university - they're usually seniors in the biology or chemistry department, and they come and work in our lab for a semester," Harding said.
Since then, the partnership has evolved. USF St. Pete's College of Arts and Sciences has created a Brewing Arts program that’s open to the public - or aspiring beer makers - that involves a half dozen other local craft breweries.
"It is a certificate program where we partner up and people can go on and take online modules through USF St. Pete and then they'll come here to the brewery and do the hands-on portion," Harding said.
So when preparations for USF St. Pete's 50th anniversary celebration began, university officials came to Harding with a request: Could Three Daughters come up with a beer to commemorate the moment?
"We have lots of students that are here, the very first intern that came through still works here as a bartender, so we're just so pleased to be a part of it and honored that they would ask," she said.
They talked about making a special beer for the occasion, but it was less expensive and time-consuming to re-brand Three Daughters' flagship brew, the Beach Blonde Ale, as Bayboro Blonde Ale.
Harding says newbies to craft beer will like it.
"It is a lighter ale, you're going to get some notes of citrus in it, but it's a really smooth one, so it's going to be very balanced, very smooth," she said.
But, she added, it should be popular with brewing aficionados too, as "it's got a lot of complexity to it for people that are already in the craft arena."
The Bayboro Blonde will only be available on tap at a few spots around town. You’ll be able to find it thanks to special artwork Three Daughters commissioned for the new name.
The artwork features a good looking blonde: Alberta, a yellow Labrador who is the guide dog for Deni Elliott, chair of USF St. Pete’s Department of Journalism and Media Studies.
But honoring Alberta is about more than just a pretty face, Elliott said.
"It is an honor to have Guiding Eyes Alberta as the model for the Bayboro Blonde. USFSP is welcoming to people with disabilities and their service dogs," she said.
Bayboro Blonde Ale is formally being unveiled Saturday at the USF St. Pete anniversary block party.