Credit: Kylie Kowalske

Cal Poly Orfalea College of Business students are working to create a beer fest dedicated to animals in need of homes.

On June 2, about 15 marketing concentration students and marketing professor Jeff Hess will host the San Luis Obispo County Small Batch Brewers Festival.

The festival will highlight seven local breweries 7Sisters Brewing Co., Bang the Drum Brewery, Bittersweet Brewing Co., Dead Oak Brewing Co., Earth and Fire Brewing Co., ManRock Brewing Co, Three Stacks and a Rock Brewing Co. and the San Luis Obispo Brewers.

All of the event proceeds will go to local animal shelter Woods Humane Society.

Hess said they chose Woods Humane Society because it is non-profit, privately funded and dedicated to the humane care and treatment of animals on the Central Coast.

“The group chose to partner with Woods Humane Society because we relate to their mission to nurture homeless pets as they wait for their forever families,” Hess said. “We know that adopting an animal not only changes its life, but also the life of the owner for the better. The Woods Humane Society is an amazing organization and we are proud to support them.”

Hess introduced the project in Winter 2018 to a marketing project class. In Spring 2019, he offered the idea up as a senior project, and marketing senior Ralaina LiDrazzah accepted the challenge, along with other students. The group has been working since January to plan, promote and coordinate with the breweries.   

“It was a lot of work getting in contact with all of the breweries and getting everyone to cooperate with one another, but overall, I think this quarter [the breweries] have progressed a lot more and been a lot more on board with it,” LiDrazzah said. “Now, it’s just getting everything together, the activities, the Snapchat filters we want, promoting it at farmers market and stuff like that.”

Co-owner of 7Sisters Brewing Co. and Cal Poly biological sciences professor Emily Taylor said she has enjoyed the fresh perspective students bring to the table. The students have been working on utilizing social media, finding influencers and reaching out to local restaurants for donations.  

“They bring a useful perspective to the project, so it was really great to hear their points of view,” Taylor said. “There’s been several ideas they’ve had that I don’t think any of the breweries on our own would have had, and that is what it is about. It’s about tapping into the knowledge of the students for our mutual benefit.”

Business administration junior Meghan Butler, who is leading the project and is in charge of the social media accounts, said she enjoys interacting with brewers and promoting their businesses.

“I love getting to hear the brewers’ stories of why they started brewing and what really differentiates their brewery from some of the larger ones in [San Luis Obispo] County, and really just getting to interact with them and create content on our social media to help share their story,” Butler said.

Taylor said the festival is unique because the brewers and customers will have the opportunity to try small breweries in one place.

“Sometimes when you go to big beer festivals, there are volunteers that are hired to pour the beer, but at this beer festival, it will be the actual brewers that make the beer that will be there,” Taylor said. “The people attending will have the chance to talk to all the brewers about how the beer is made.”

Tickets for the Small Batch Brewers Festival held at Hacienda Antigua are on sale now for $40. All proceeds will go to Woods Humane Society.

“These are all gems of [San Luis Obispo] County, each and every one of these breweries, and they are all coming to one place, so it is kind of a once-a-year kind of thing that is really unique,” Butler said.

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