Newcastle University Students’ Union

Newcastle University Students' Union pick up the Enterprise Award

Newcastle University Students’ Union pick up the Enterprise Award

Enterprise Award



1. What are the main aims of the enterprise/venture and who was involved in creating it?

Stu Brew is Europe’s first microbrewery to be managed by and for students, based at Newcastle University. Stu Brew produces real ale products, crafted by students, with sales taking place through the Students’ Union bars, university events and student society events. As well as producing first class real ales from students’ own recipes, the enterprise aims to promote sustainable, low-impact local produce amongst the student community, and is striving to minimise the environmental impact of the brewing process.

The enterprise is a partnership between Newcastle University Students’ Union and the university’s Chemical Engineering & Advanced Materials department. The profits from beer sales are being invested back into training so that more students can learn the art of craft brewing, and also develop their entrepreneurial skills including sales, label design, marketing and financial management. The microbrewery is working towards being as environmentally sustainable as possible by dealing with waste responsibly and reducing our energy and water usage – spent grain is fed to local pigs and used hops are a valuable mulching material for our student-managed orchard.

The microbrewery has been established with support from NUS’s Student Green Fund, and a team of dedicated students from a wide range of departments have worked extremely hard over the last 2 years to get the microbrewery installed and functional, whilst laying the groundwork for a profitable enterprise. They have been involved with everything from securing trademarks, developing branding for the business, communication with HMRC, recipe formulation, brewing, casking, bottling and managing sales.

2. How does the enterprise ensure that its services have responded to the needs of those using the service and how are they delivered?

From the outset, the Stu Brew student team have harnessed the energy and interest of the wider student community to ensure that the business is responding to the tastes and considerations of its market. Students from the BSc Nutrition and Food Marketing course used the microbrewery as a live project to carry out market research with over 120 students, as well as consulting bar managers and undertaking an assessment of competitors across Newcastle. Stu Brew volunteers have run several taste-test events through the SU and at NUSU Green Markets on campus to gain feedback from their potential customers on test brews and ale styles. This promotion has also served to engage a wide range of students with volunteering opportunities within the enterprise.

Students and staff with an ever-widening skills base are getting involved and contributing time, energy and expertise to making the enterprise a success.
Sustainability is a key element of the enterprise, and feedback from the student population so far shows that this is perceived as a unique selling point for the enterprise’s products. The team are working hard to manage brewery waste responsibly, limit energy and water usage, and reduce the brewery’s carbon footprint. Stu Brew’s partnership with the Chemical Engineering department has meant that practical steps can be taken quickly and more effectively to work in the most sustainable way possible, whilst promoting the sustainability aims through marketing of the beers. The Stu Brew team are passionate about creating great craft beers which everyone can appreciate.

3. How does the enterprise/venture show innovation and the ability to ‘make things happen’ by overcoming challenges?

The enterprise gives students real-life experience of running a social enterprise, with experienced students mentoring others, sharing skills and supporting others whilst generating a profit to reinvest into further training and brewery development. Post-grad students are able to lead brew days on a small-scale test brewery kit to help others test out new recipes and try new hop combinations. These are then showcased and tasted by students at ‘tap events’ at NUSU’s Bar, with the most popular ales being scaled up onto the 400litre kit. Students studying business share their knowledge on branding and pricing, whereas they gain valuable practical skills from engineering students or those studying biology regarding yeast management.

Any Stu Brew member will testify to the many challenges which the team have overcome so far. The students had to make the tough decision to alter the name of their enterprise following a trademark challenge to their original chosen name from a bottled water company.
The planned site for the brewery installation has had to change twice, with the changing circumstances eventually proving to be a blessing in disguise. A lecturer from the Chemical Engineering Department heard about Stu Brew from one of his students, and began to attend meetings. This fortuitous contact has blossomed into a partnership between the Students’ Union and the Chemical Engineering Department. The brewery now serves as home for the microbrewery enterprise and also as an integral laboratory space with CEAM students using the facility to conduct research into sustainable brewery technologies.

4. What has been the main outcomes of the enterprise and what is the future vision for the project?

To date we have had over 400 students engage with the project and other community partners and academics.

The impacts have included

Volunteer engagement and the enhancement of employability skills

Establishing links with academics to develop new work in future

Enhanced reputation within the community and the University

Initiated a step change in student engagement in sustainability issues;
The Stu Brew Enterprise is effectively engaging students not traditionally engaged with sustainability issues with buying local product and asking them to think about the environmental impact of the food and drink they consume. Through the two tap events held at NUSU so far, 195 students (169 new to our projects) have been engaged in buying locally produced beer, brewed by students using as sustainable means as possible at this stage.

An increase in the People & Planet Green League6 scores at NU currently ranked 15th;
We are proud that Newcastle University has moved up the league table from 15th to 12th this year! No doubt this project, as well as others will have contributed.

The future looks bright for Stu Brew with demand outstripping supply, we plan to be self sustainable within the next year or so and for now, have secured funding from the University to continue this work. We have many new plans on the horizon, including rolling the concept out nationally, perhaps through training other SUs and even a possible roll out of the brand across SUs who may undertake a similar project.

Nominated by Lindsey Lockey, Students’ Union Staff

What the judges said…

Johnny Luk Bio photoTheir professional attitude in branding, licensing and giving responsibility to students to take on challenges is exactly what enterprise is all about. The alcohol industry is also well regulated, so that provides an additional challenge that students are overcoming. It has catered for environmental concerns by feeding hops to pigs, which is a nice touch.” Johnny Luk, National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs  


“This has actively engaged and involved significant numbers of students from a wide range of disciplines and departments as well KMas tapping in to current trends, and is an innovative partnership linking with academics and the community. It has strong environmental and sustainability credentials leading to wider awareness raising, and demonstrates clear impacts for students providing wide ranging learning and development opportunities.” Karen Mellanby, Mind