By India Rice
Westlake High School
The College Heights Brewery and Altech’s contract is ending.
The brewery’s future is uncertain and officials are trying to figure out what to do.
“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what’s going to happen to us,’” said Andrew McMichael, an associate dean in WKU’s Potter College of Arts & Letters who has spearheaded the project.
The brewery itself is shut down, but the brewing program for students will continue, McMichael said. WKU cannot get a liquor license by state law so there will no longer be College Heights Ale or any other associated labels.
Altech is planning to vacate the space in the WKU Center for Research Development within 90 days.
In 2015 WKU reached out to Altech to create a brewing education facility.
“We (WKU) were interested in brewer education and making our brewers educated,” McMichael said. Altech was similarly interested in the partnership.
“We (WKU) were looking to educate brewers. They (Altech) were looking to educate brewers,” he said.
The contract was an attempt to get the brewery off the ground and provide hands-on education and it did just that. Altech contributed equipment, liquor licenses (in the production and distribution of College Heights Ale), a facility and jobs.
Education was the main reason for the brewery program. “Our program is to help people fulfill their passion.”
“It was a way for us to work with Altech but it brought back money to the students,” McMichael said, primarily through jobs, scholarships and internships.
According to WKUHerald.com, the collaboration also included a $300,000 donor commitment from Alltech to WKU over a five-year period, beginning in 2015. That commitment will continue.
McMichael said the negatives are obvious. However, there are positives. WKU will have more opportunities now and possibilities for other sponsorships.
“It will take away some uncertainty away from other breweries, more possibilities for us, and it forces us not to be lazy,” McMichael said.
He said it could create partnership with Jim Beam and other distilleries and breweries around Kentucky.
“If we ever do another collaboration, it won’t be in this building.”
Though Altech has left the equation, the brewing program still exists, he emphasized. And related activities continue.
“We have some folks down at the (WKU) farm growing some experimental hops,” McMichael said.
“It was only two weeks ago that we found out this was going to happen,” McMichael said. Uncertainty prevails at this point. Faculty working with the brewery education program are still trying to answer that question.
“I just can’t tell yet.”