Starting this weekend, Hustlin’ Owls fans will have a new, frothier way to support Oregon Tech athletics.
Anyone of drinking age can grab a glass of the new Hustlin’ Ale at a couple locations near the OIT campus beginning Friday night. The beer is the result of a partnership between the university’s athletics department and Klamath Falls’ Skyline Brewing Company.
Hustlin’ Ale is a “pretty light beer” designed to appeal to everyone “from college students to non-craft beer fans, but also is something that people who are into craft beer will really like,” said Ty Kliewer, co-owner of Skyline Brewing.
For now, the beer will be available on tap at the Brevada Brewhouse and The Falls Taphouse. According to Kliewer, the plan is for the beer to be more widely available around town in the fall around the beginning of those sports seasons.
“While the students are still here this is kind of a little teaser to give them something to be excited about when they come back in the fall,” Kliewer said.
Skyline will donate 12.5 percent of the beer’s sales back to the athletics department, said Justin Parnell, OIT’s head men’s basketball coach.
“It’s kind of a non-offensive beer that a lot of people would like, and that’s just what we wanted it to be,” Parnell said. “Because we’re not going after a certain crowd, really, we just wanted it to be something that everybody would like and can kind of get around.”
The idea for the beer was born a few years ago on a basketball team road trip in Montana.
After a tough game, team members spotted some University of Montana-themed tap handles at a restaurant and decided to pocket the idea of an Oregon Tech tap for a later date, said Josh Wetzler, the assistant athletic director for marketing and business development.
Over the past year pandemic-related revenue losses for the athletics department set up the opportunity for some new fundraising ideas.
“Couldn’t sell tickets, camps, couldn’t have an annual auction, all those things,” said Wetzler, who also doubles as an assistant basketball coach. “We had to think outside the box a little bit for ideas.”
So, Wetzler and others pitched the beer idea to Skyline. Kliewer was all for the Hustlin’ Ale.
“My thought was that’s awesome and I have a hard time seeing this not being successful,” Kliewer said.
OIT Athletics Director John Van Dyke said the department is special and didn’t take the pandemic as an opportunity to just sit back.
“It was like, ‘No, what can we do to make our department better? What can we do to fill the gap of the lack of fundraising opportunities? And what can we do, from an athletics perspective, to get our teams better when we’re all over Zoom?” said Van Dyke, who is also an assistant basketball coach.