Indiana State University Newsroom

Business students brew strategic plan for local beer

June 12, 2013

A dark brown horse clopped along Wabash Avenue near the Copper Bar while towing a wagon with kegs around town as people would have witnessed in the 1800s. Even the concoction in the kegs - Terre Haute legendary beer Champagne Velvet - had not been seen for some time.

Yet the ale was returning to the Wabash Valley, though not without support from some local college students who collaborated with the beer's new brewer in a class project of locally historic proportions.

Indiana State University students Zach Shannon, Chris Vidal, Parker Hodges and Casey Reed this spring helped create a strategic plan for Upland Brewery's re-launch of Champagne Velvet as part of a strategy capstone class taught by Aruna Chandra, professor of management in the Scott College of Business. The students chose to work with Upland Brewery, a Bloomington, Ind., company making beer since 1998, on the re-launch over several other initiatives offered in the class.

"Since Terre Haute Brewing Company first started this (in the mid-19th century), it is a big deal to bring the beer back," said Shannon, who graduated from Indiana State in May with a bachelor's degree in insurance and risk management.

The students traveled to Bloomington to learn more about the company and met with Tim Spears, director of business development at Upland Brewery. He introduced them to the significance of Champagne Velvet, which has a unique history in Terre Haute.

"To have the ISU students on board with us is a rewarding experience for me and for Upland," said Spears. "These students expressed an ongoing interest in the beer and its history, notably Chris Vidal, who brought a group of students to the brewery to be some of the first people to actually taste Upland's initial brewing of Champagne Velvet."

The project helped the students gain a greater appreciation of small businesses. "We will be using them more now," said Vidal, who graduated in May with a bachelor's degree in operations and supply chain management.

The project was part of the Indiana Global Business Advisors (IGloBA), an initiative created by Chandra in which she pairs her students with local, national or international organizations that provide students the opportunity to collaborate on projects to learn how to translate strategic management theory into practice.

Several students working with Upland Brewery were interested in the dynamics of the microbrewery industry and perhaps working for one down the road, she said.

"They already have one foot in the door (by learning more), so to speak. They are really excited about it," Chandra said. "That's why I let them choose their business."

Students learn best when they are excited about a topic, Chandra added.

"This group had a lot of enthusiasm and was engaged throughout the entire semester," Chandra said. "I think a lot of it had to do with Tim Spears. He always replied to their e-mails in a timely manner, took them on tours of the brewery and provided them with information. In my future classes I will suggest students to work with this company."

The Terre Haute Brewing Company first created Champagne Velvet in the early 1900s. But the brewery closed its doors in the late 1950s and for the next few years different companies brewed the beer.

Now, Upland Brewery is resurrecting one of Wabash Valley's trademark brews for a new generation of enthusiasts.

"The growth of local beer in Indiana in recent years is a great cause of celebration," Spears said. "But local beer is not something new. In fact, it is our heritage."

Upland Brewery has created more than 30 different types of beer since its inception 15 years ago - and business is still growing.

"With the ongoing expansion of Upland, and to commemorate our 15th anniversary," Spears said, "we are proud to pay homage to Terre Haute with Champagne Velvet's latest brewing and release."

Photo: (Submitted photo)A horse-drawn wagon hauling kegs of Champagne Velvet around Terre Haute visited the Wabash Valley to commemorate Upland Brewery's re-launch of the locally popular beer. Several Indiana State University students worked with Upland Brewery on developing a strategic plan for the re-launch. Their effort was part of a business strategy course taught by Aruna Chandra, professor of management in ISU's Scott College of Business.

Photo: (Submitted photo)This photo won a contest on social media run by Upland Brewery, which earlier this spring re-launched the Champagne Velvet beer. In the contest, the brewery wanted people to take pictures of their Champagne Velvet collection and tweet it or post on Facebook or Instagram. Several Indiana State University students worked with the brewery to create a strategic plan for the re-launch.

Photo: (Submitted photo)Several Indiana State University students meet with a company representative at Upland Brewery in Bloomington. The ISU students worked with the brewery as part of a business strategy class in the Scott College of Business.

Contact: Aruna Chandra, professor of management, Scott College of Business, Indiana State University, 812-237-2105 or

Writer: Beth Pickerill, media relations assistant, Indiana State University,