New student group, Ski-Brew-Mah, opens UMN students to world of local beer

The group looks at the business and culture of Minnesota brewing and winemaking.

Members of the Ski-Brew-Mah club tour a brewery. The club, which is relatively new to the University of Minnesota, focuses on the business and culture of breweries and wineries.

Courtesy of Hannah Fox

Members of the Ski-Brew-Mah club tour a brewery. The club, which is relatively new to the University of Minnesota, focuses on the business and culture of breweries and wineries.

Katie Lauer

Beer and wine have a special place in college culture. They also have a culture of their own, and a new University of Minnesota student group, Ski-Brew-Mah, is dedicated to exploring that world.

Sara Dick — a junior studying human resources who grew up surrounded by the beer business — wanted to bring that culture to the University.

“I kind of wanted to combine my business background with something I was actually passionate about,” Dick said. “So that’s how the idea came about. I asked Hannah [Fox] because she has the wine background.”

With family ties to a winery, Hannah Fox was a natural fit for the group. The junior psychology major thinks the group fits perfectly on campus.

“I think beer and wine are something that a lot of college students are interested in — business as well,” Fox said. “It’s just a good way to intertwine the two things.”

The business-based student group focuses on promoting responsible drinking culture and educating students on the processes of brewing and winemaking.

To accomplish this, the group has brewing venues come in to talk about their own culture and business processes.

From entrepreneurship, supply chain, marketing and branding, the group looks at the entire picture of the business’ success.

Each discussion is paired with a tour of the venue itself. While the group strongly enforces the legal drinking age of 21, anyone can be involved, regardless of background knowledge. The club presents information for everyone from beginners to brew masters.

“I think some people may have the misconception that we only need experienced beer drinkers, but it’s more like we want people who want to learn about it,” Dick said. “I’ve had a few students who specifically reached out and said, ‘This is so cool. I’ve been looking for something like this forever.’ And then we have our friends who have never even heard of microbreweries.”

“The culture of the business in general is really nice, especially for a student group,” Fox said. “Everyone in the industry is so relaxed and willing to work with you.”

In their first six months, Ski-Brew-Mah has talked with Town Hall and Insight Brewing. They will tap more into the world of wine as the year progresses.

The group is also looking into “out of Minneapolis” events, where they’ll travel to vineyards and breweries beyond the Twin Cities metro area.

No matter which venues they talk with and tour, Ski-Brew-Mah is ultimately a group for people wishing to explore the business and world of brewing and winemaking. That special interest ties everything together.

“I think it’s a hobby for a lot of people, just trying different beers,” Fox said. “Especially in microbreweries, they’re so specialized.”

“It’s very much a learning experience — even for people who are cultured in it,” Dick said. “It’s not a Bud Light.”