Ale to the Chief
The Flying Dutchman is a familiar face on LVC’s campus, a constant reminder of the College’s community and camaraderie. Though he has not always been the College’s mascot, he has nevertheless been embraced as the face of The Valley. He can now be seen on shirts, posters, signs, and everything in between.
So why not add a beer to the mix?
The task of bringing the Dutchman to life as an ale started in 2014, though due to time constraints, the team of LVC students, under the guidance of Joshua Schucker ’98, head brewer at Snitz Creek Brewery in Lebanon, brewed an ale based on an existing recipe then applied the Flying Dutchmen Ale label.
In 2015, the team made a more concerted effort, with Snitz Creek recruiting chemistry, biology, and biochemistry & molecular biology majors to not only assist with the brewing process, but also devise a new recipe. Students were responsible for choosing, among other things, the malt and the hops for the beer.
“We decided to make a lighter rendition of an Oktoberfest beer,” said Carrie Pfleiger ’16, one of the biology majors involved in the project.
The team opted for a multidisciplinary approach, with business and digital communications students managing the marketing and design aspects of the brew. The students were actively involved in the process, providing their input on how the beer should be brewed and performing much of the labor involved in the brewing process.
“On brew day, we did a lot more labor than I thought we would,” noted Victoria Seader ’16, a biochemistry & molecular biology major on the team.
Many of the students commented on the chemistry involved in the brewing process, noting that they appreciated the opportunity to see the “scientific side” of the process. Their role in the brewing process, including operating grain chutes, preparing hops, and controlling the flow of the beer, took eight hours, more time consuming and complex than they expected. The students largely handled the brewing on their own, with limited direction from Snitz Creek staff.
“Nothing about the process was easy and everything was figured out down to the last detail,” said Megan Blauch ’16, an ACS chemistry major.
Indeed, the logistical aspects of creating Flying Dutchmen Ale proved to be the biggest challenge for all disciplines. On the business side, tasks tended to involve fewer hops and more management. Distribution of the beer took priority, with the business majors reaching out to area restaurants and bars to encourage them to either sell it on tap. To commemorate LVC’s Homecoming celebration, the ale will be available for tasting at the Oct. 10 football game, as well as for sale at local establishments including Snitz Creek, the Batdorf, Corvette, Mt. Gretna Hideaway, The Foundry in Lebanon, Funcks Restaurant in Palmyra, and Black Diamond in Frackville. Snitz Creek will donate a percentage of sales to the College’s High-Impact Experience fund.
To inform curious alumni about this uniquely Lebanon Valley beverage, marketing students Kaitlyn Partington ’17 and Matt Healy ’16 have been hard at work producing flyers and other promotional pieces, while students Austin Hornberger ’16 and Terese Sweitzer ’16 managed the direct sales process. In addition, the College Store will sell Flying Dutchmen Ale pint glasses and growlers during Homecoming weekend.
As an LVC graduate that has seen several one-off beers come to fruition, Schucker is immensely pleased with how the project has progressed. Having previously worked on his own brews before being hired by Snitz Creek, he is no stranger to the logistics required to create a beer.
“It’s great to provide an informative experience to students on applied science in a real-world environment,” said Schucker.
In the days before Homecoming, students finalized their marketing plans and carbonated the beer to prepare it for distribution. Schucker hopes to turn Flying Dutchmen Ale into a yearly project, something that he believes will stimulate interest in other hands-on learning experiences.
The 2015 Flying Dutchmen Ale was produced by Snitz Creek Brewery with the help of the following students: Megan Blauch ’16, Matt Healy ’16, Austin Hornberger ’16, Antoinette Issis ’16, Cody Lloyd ’16, Kaitlyn Partington ’17, Carrie Pfleiger ’16, Victoria Seader ’16, Terese Sweitzer ’16 and Clarissa Shoffler ’16.