CWU News

CWU Student Beer to be Commercially Produced and Distributed

Four Central Washington University students who call themselves the Central Brewers Collective will have their beer, Jackrabbit Pale Ale, commercially produced and distributed by Diamond Knot Craft Brewing of Mukilteo.

Pat Ringe, vice president of brewing operations at Diamond Knot, is a 1993 CWU alumnus. Diamond Knot sponsored the second annual CWU Craft Brewing Program Competition last week and Ringe was one of five judges who evaluated the marketing plans and tasted the four beers entered in the contest.

CWU students Peter Newstead, Ryan Brookhart, Donovan Stewart, and Jeff Beckman took first place, winning the opportunity to have their beer produced by Diamond Knot and distributed in Central Washington.

“The students were tasked with coming up with a beer that is drinkable and appropriate for Central Washington,” said Steve Wagner, director of the CWU Brewing Program. “This brewing competition really is a celebration of the students’ work. They’ve worked really hard. It’s not easy making beer.”

The winning beer will make a good addition to Diamond Knot’s lineup, said Ringe, who hopes to have Jackrabbit Pale Ale on tap by this fall.

“It was a really well done beer,” he said. “The style of it I thought was one that would probably appeal to folks in Central Washington. We’ve never done a beer of that style, so I thought it fit nicely into our wheelhouse.”

Ringe was joined by fellow judges Kevin Smith of Bale Breaker Brewing Co.; Jeff Winn of Yakima Craft Brewing Co.; Bill Reichlin of Colockum Craft Brewing; and Roger Beardsley, a CWU Brewing Program professor. Several local beer buffs also got to sample the competing brews, rating the aroma, balance, complexity, and drinkability.

The four winning students said they wanted to make a beer that’s approachable and easy to drink. They describe their Jackrabbit American Oat Pale Ale as a hop-forward, sessionable Northwest ale with massive fruity aromatics and oats.

“We’re going for the Coors Light crowd,” Ryan Brookhart said during his team’s presentation. “We’ll convert them.”

The light-bodied beer has 4.8 percent alcohol by volume and is smooth when chilled and complex when served at warmer cellar temperatures.

Coming in second place was an American Amber called Redrum Rye presented by CWU students Kat Goodsell, Chela Viramontes, and Casey Stephenson. A Cascadian dark ale called Mel’s Hole — named after a Kittitas Valley urban legend — took third place. It was presented by CWU students Austin Smith and Alex Dahlin. A German wheat beer called Hopfen-Bluteweizen, presented by CWU students Kyle Charvet, Brian Reilly, and Anthony Huber, took fourth place.

CWU’s Craft Brewing Program is an interdisciplinary program that provides an overview of the art, science, technology, and business of the craft beer industry. The 30-week program includes lab work, hands on experience, lectures, field trips and exposure to industry professionals. For more information, go to

TOP PHOTO: Pat Ringe, of Diamond Knot Brewing (left) and Kevin Smith, of Bale Breaker Brewing, are served samples of Redrum Rye during the CWU Craft Brewing Program Competition on Thursday, May 22. (Barb Arnott / CWU)

ABOVE PHOTO: Four CWU students who make up the Central Brewers Collective won the 2014 CWU Craft Brewing Program Competition on May 22 with their Jackrabbit Pale Ale. Pictured from left are CWU Brewing Program Director Steve Wagner,  CWU students Peter Newstead, Ryan Brookhart, and Donovan Stewart, CWU alumnus and vice president of brewing operations for Diamond Knot Craft Brewing Co. Pat Ringe, and CWU student Jeff Beckman. (Barb Arnott / CWU)

Media contact: Barb Arnott, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-2841,

May 30, 2014