Six pack of the Badger inspired Red Arrow beer created by the Wisconsin Brerwing Company and the UW.

Photo courtesy of the Wisconsin Brewing Company

The Red Arrow

Wisconsin has a long history with brewing and beer — the Memorial Union, after all, was one of the first campus facilities in the nation to offer beer once Prohibition ended. For the last three years, UW–Madison’s Department of Food Sciences has offered a project in which students create a new beer, which is then manufactured, bottled, and sold by Wisconsin Brewing Company, based in nearby Verona, Wisconsin. This year’s entry, available since March, is an American pale ale called Red Arrow.

As a commemoration of the centennial of America’s entry into World War I, the beer’s name honors the Wisconsin National Guard and its 32nd Infantry Division. The 32nd comprised National Guard units from Wisconsin and Michigan, and French soldiers nicknamed its soldiers les Terribles for their fierceness in battle.

In 1918, the 32nd was the first Allied division to pierce the Hindenburg Line, Germany’s main line of defense. To symbolize that accomplishment, the division adopted a red arrow piercing a red line as its insignia.

After the war, Major General Robert Bruce McCoy LLB1891, a UW grad who had led one of the division’s regiments, became the 32nd’s commander. He’s the namesake of today’s Fort McCoy, one of the Wisconsin National Guard’s chief training facilities.

The division was deactivated in 1967, but today the Wisconsin National Guard includes the 32nd Infantry Brigade, which carries on the Red Arrow’s tradition. Its units have served in America’s conflicts in the 21st century.