Amid the music, food and games at this year’s homecoming, revelers can imbibe a signature beer brewed to celebrate UC Irvine’s 50th anniversary.
Anteater Ale is a lot like the campus itself: crisp and light, with a pleasant nuttiness and clean finish. The classic golden beverage will be available at the Hotel Irvine Beer Garden on campus during Jan. 31 homecoming festivities.
It’s the creation of Brandon Fender, a 2008 UCI graduate with a bachelor’s degree in social ecology. By day, Fender is a senior analyst with RSG, a community development consulting firm in downtown Santa Ana. But his other passion is craft brewing, and with the support of family and friends, he started The Good Beer Company last year.
Its tasting room debuted on Halloween 2014 in a stunning, 130-year-old, brick-and-wood former livery stable next to the Ronald Reagan Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse in downtown Santa Ana and quickly became a popular gathering place.
The old county urban core hosts a bustling nightlife, with cutting-edge restaurants, trendy bars and clubs, and art shows and galleries – often enhanced by one of The Good Beer Company’s dozen or so varieties.
“I wanted to open an interesting place where people want to be,” Fender says. “Beer, community and a beautiful building – this is the embodiment of my passions.”
These passions, he adds, were nurtured at UCI, especially in the School of Social Ecology, which provided him the support and training that led him to RSG, which works with local governments and private entities to build better communities.
While Fender honed his interest in community development as a social ecology student, he spent weekends and quarter breaks at his parents’ Julian home, cooking up beers on the family stove and in the garage. His fascination with craft brewing continued after graduation, culminating in The Good Beer Company.
But even before Fender’s tasting room opened, the Anteater network was at work. Santa Ana Planning Commissioner Sean Mill – himself a 1990 UCI graduate – alerted the university’s alumni association about the coming venture. Not opposed to a tasty beverage, Jeff Minhas ’04, executive director of the UCI Alumni Association, approached Fender about creating a signature beer for Anteater Nation.
Besides Anteater Ale, visitors to the tasting room can sample various American- and Belgian-style brews. Fender’s beers are also available in many of downtown Santa Ana’s restaurants, bars and clubs.
“Anteater Ale is a golden example, literally, of how talented and generous alumni connecting with one another can yield great things for our community,” Minhas says.