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VCU cancels production of school-themed beer a day after its release

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Clouds return for the weekend, but rain waits until Halloween

Virginia Commonwealth University will pause distribution of its school-branded beer, the university announced Thursday, one day after the beer was released.

VCU cited concerns raised by a professor and the family of late student Adam Oakes, who said it wasn’t appropriate for the school to trademark its own alcoholic beverage at this time.

Hardywood Park Craft Brewery released Ram Bam, a golden pale ale, on Wednesday.

vcu ram bam beer.jpg

Virginia Commonwealth University and Hardywood Park Craft Brewery released Ram Bam, a golden pale ale, on Wednesday. A day later, VCU called off production.

“After hearing from members of our university community, including the family of Adam Oakes on Wednesday, we have paused this initiative,” said Michael Porter, spokesperson for VCU. “Although product is in market already, we will work with our partner to stop production, effective immediately.”

Everett Carpenter, a VCU professor, raised concern earlier this week in a letter to VCU President Michael Rao. Carpenter said it was insensitive for VCU to brand its own beer, considering Oakes died of alcohol poisoning during a hazing incident last year. VCU recently paid the Oakes family nearly $1 million in a settlement.

VCU is licensing its own beer, despite objections from school community

Carpenter also noted that a university council committee had voted against a policy change allowing VCU to put its trademark on an alcoholic beverage. The council does not have authority to make final decisions and serves as a suggestion-making body.

Carpenter said Thursday afternoon that he was glad to hear VCU would pause production.

Courtney White, a cousin of Oakes, called it insensitive for VCU to release its own beer.

“We appreciate being heard and actions being taken,” she said Thursday. “Our hope is in the future, everyone is more mindful of the impact their decisions can have on others.”

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She added that professors have a valuable perspective and should be considered by university leadership during decision-making.

It’s unclear how long the pause will last. Porter said the length of time is indefinite. Hardywood did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Three universities in the state — Virginia Tech, James Madison University and the University of Virginia — have partnered with craft breweries in the state to release university-themed beers.

“VCU’s branded beer initiative was created with the best intentions: to fund student scholarships,” Porter said. “We value our community and have taken this action based on their concerns.”

VCU settles with family of Adam Oakes, who died in hazing incident, for $995,000

ekolenich@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6109

Twitter: @EricKolenich

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Eric Kolenich writes about higher education, health systems and more for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He joined the newspaper in 2009 and spent 11 years in the Sports section. (804) 649-6109

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