Leigh Harting and Deni Elliott met for the first time face to face on Thursday and, after a great conversation, parted ways with a hug. It seemed like they’d known each other for months.
In a way, they kind of have.
Harting, who is co-owner of 3Daugthers Brewing in St. Petersburg provided a new beer for the University of South Florida’s celebration in September to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Bayboro-St. Pete campus. Elliott, who couldn’t attended the party, is the proud owner of the inspiration for the very unique beer label.
“This was our first time to have an animal be the representative,” said Harting. “Without question this has got to be the number one blonde. You just have to meet her to love her.”
Alberta is the most popular blonde on campus. She has been Elliott’s guide dog for the last few years. Wherever Elliott goes, Alberta is right by her side.
“I’m incomplete without her,” said the journalism and media professor, who started at USF in January 2004. “I can function without her. I mean, I worked with a cane for years before I started getting guide dogs. But, Alberta knows me better than I know myself. She’s my furry GPS.”
That GPS is noticeable for everyone on campus. Students “are warned,” in a good way, that Elliott and Alberta come as a pair around USF.
Now, the well-known dog comes on a beer can, too.
“It was a fabulous surprise that Alberta was the Bayboro blonde beer girl,” said Elliott with a laugh.
Across campus from Elliott’s office is The Tavern, run by Tom Herzhauser. Hanging over his door is a giant banner with Alberta’s smiling face upon it. He’s had Bayboro Blonde Ale on tap since the big party in September.
“Here it is. The Bayboro Blonde Ale,” he said sliding a full beer across the bar. “People come in. They want to drink the local beer.”
That beer was provided by 3Daughters Brewing, who was thrilled to be part of the honorary project.
“I have a soft spot for the puppies,” said Harting. “(Alberta) was sort of a legend in my mind. I knew so much about their story while we were creating it.”
The beer has done so well on campus that 3Daughters has decided to keep it on tap at The Tavern going forward.
Now, even more students will get to see their favorite blonde around the campus and on their beers.
“I’m going to go out and buy a six-pack now,” said student Darja Perisec.
The label was designed by graphic artist and former USFSP student, Jimmy Breen.