A Sheridan brewing company partners with UW and the state to create a “state beer”
Black Tooth Brewing Company, based in Sheridan, started in late 2010. The brewery has partnered with the state and University of Wyoming (UW) to provide Wyoming Golden Ale, a new craft beer to become the university’s and state’s beer.
“It's a unique beer that we've never brewed before. We've never had an actual golden ale. We've done some other stuff with similar styles, but the idea behind Wyoming Golden Ale was to target the widest demographic,” said Tim Barnes, co-founder of Black Tooth Brewing Company. “You don't want a high alcohol beer or a hoppy beer to be the state's brand, you want to try and target the widest demographic that that you can target in, and this is a very approachable four and a half percent yellow colored beer that that's going to be very familiar to people who have had any other style of domestic beer.”
The beer is straw-colored and has “no adjuncts in it that would allow for certain flavor characteristics,” Barnes said. It will be available year-round in two special cans with unique Wyoming-inspired designs, both of which will be available seasonally. These include a UW-focused can with Pistol Pete that reads “Brewed for Cowboys” from Labor Day to Memorial Day. The second can features various historic license plates with Steamboat the bucking horse that first debuted on Wyoming license plates in 1936 from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
“One of the things that we talk a lot about and in our leadership team meetings is the idea of being intentional. And this project spoke a lot to being intentional and being in Wyoming and trying to build an iconic Wyoming brand is a difficult thing to do,” Barnes said. “Being in a place to be able to execute on such a unique opportunity is evidence to me that we're moving in the right direction and continuing to try and build on what we've established over the last decade.”
Black Tooth Brewing Company was one of several craft breweries that were considered for a multi-year contract with UW. Barnes consulted with university staff in early 2021 about putting the iconic bucking horse and rider on an alcoholic beverage container of some kind after the university requested input from a handful of other breweries about what a request for proposal would look like. After preparing an extensive written proposal and interviewing with the Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office (which owns the trademark to Steamboat the bucking horse) and university officials in 2022, they were selected as finalists at the end of last year. They were awarded a three year contract in January.
“They [labels] can be pulled off and put on a water bottle or kegerator or something in your garage,” Barnes said. “It's a collectible item to have those cans and if we change that one up every year, I think we'll have renewed velocity and interest from [a range of] people that want to collect memorabilia from the state of Wyoming’s history.”
Some of the labels for the cans will be printed in Worland, which is also where the aluminum cans are supplied from.
The company will pay a royalty to UW for usage of the Steamboat, which is the case for any merchandise or other items that feature the logo, Barnes said. UW will also receive a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the beer.
The beer will be canned on site in Sheridan and distributed across the state, a process that’s underway this week. The new ale is also set to make its debut at the company’s Cheyenne location on May 25 and at their Casper location on May 26, an event that will be attended by Gov. Mark Gordon before being unveiled in Sheridan on May 27 with Gordon and First Lady Jennie Gordon in attendance. UW officials will also be present at all three events.
“We've received significant interest from them as it pertains to this upcoming product and I expect that there will be opportunities to buy it in just about every location in Wyoming that has chosen to put it on tap or on the shelves by Friday,” he said.
The company has had their other beers distributed statewide since 2015.