Good things are brewing on Auraria


MSU Denver student Marciano “Marco” Olivo holds his award-winning Habango Ale at a complementary beer tasting at the Degree resturaunt on the Auraria Campus on Jan. 25. Photo by Lauren Cordova •

Degree Restaurant hosted a free beer tasting featuring beers brewed by MSU Denver’s very own students.

The restaurant is a part of MSU’s Hospitality, Tourism and Events program, and is located at the Northeast corner of campus. The restaurant partners with MSU Denver students to provide a real world experience.

The intimate beer tasting, held in the foyer of the restaurant Jan. 25, was open to MSU Denver faculty and students. The event featured nine beers, all brewed last semester by students enrolled in the Brewing Science Certification program. As patrons enjoyed the bubbly creations, most of the students were in class just a few feet away in the fermentation lab.

Joseph LaViolette, beverage laboratory coordinator, said that the event provides students and Degree exposure.

“It’s a great opportunity, the students get feedback from a lot of faculty of Metro and some students,” LaViolette said.

The program’s limited liquor license allows for the production and tasting of beer for educational purposes only, and the beer cannot be sold.

LaViolette said that this affords students some creative freedom, which is shown in the beer lineup.: Ragnörok, a traditional Finnish beer, a passion fruit saison, Lemondrop SMaSH, a popular experiment beer brewed with lemon drop hops, and Habango, a refreshingly spicy and slightly sweet beer.

Habango, created and brewed by Marciano “Marco” Olivo along with three partners, won bronze in the fruit beer category at the 2017 Big Beers Competition in Breckenridge.

“We wanted to do something that was fruity and spicy, so that it would be balanced. We went with habanero peppers and mango. So habanero and mango comes to Habango,” Olivo said.

Olivo has a culinary background and worked as a chef for 20 years before starting home brewing in 2008.

“I’ve always looked at beer as a food, so I wanted to explore that further. This is really what brought me here. The program has given me more insight into the science of brewing beer as well as the business aspect. It’s really a well rounded program,” he said.

Olivo has a few beers going to competitions in the coming weeks or months, including a Belgian tripel, an American porter and an historical London ale.

David Andy and Sean Lawson are two MSU Denver students who attended the event to fill their bellies with the student brews. Both agreed that the Imperial IPA, Fruit Cornucopia, was their favorite.

“It embodies everything I want in an IPA; really strong, hoppy flavor. It was good, it was just on point,” Andy said.

Lawson noted the quality of the beers.

“It’s great. I can’t believe how good the beer is, especially for students,” he said.

Jeremy Greenwell, assistant director of food and beverage for Degree, said the partnership with MSU Denver provides students in the hospitality major a real world experience. The partnership benefits students in other ways as well. Funds from the restaurant go directly toward student scholarships.

“It’s an outlet for the students to be able to get their beer out there to be able to talk about it, to do something fun for campus,” Greenwell said.

Author: Madison Lauterbach

Madison Lauterbach is a junior at MSU Denver majoring in convergent Journalism and minoring in Political Science. She has served as the news editor for The Metropolitan since February 2017. You can follow her on Twitter @milauter1.

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