Wednesday, 17 November 2010 16:09

Charitable Beers

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In hard times where unemployment is at its highest in decades, natural disasters strike leaving thousands homeless, sick or dead, and wars continue to be waged, craft breweries and local and national charities have been teaming up to inspire donations  and help those in need, while beer drinkers can feel good about their purchases.


The brew of the brave is a lager that gives back to our United States’ active military, saluting our nation’s heroes. Every time someone purchases a 50 Back Lager, the company donates 50% of the proceeds to charities committed to supporting and enriching the lives of veterans and active service members and their families.  50 Back proudly gives back to five Military charities, including United Service Organizations, Homes For Our Troops, The Ahern Family Charitable Foundation, Massachusetts Soldiers Legacy Fund and the America’s VetDogs® – The Veteran’s K-9 Corps. It’s brewed with a complex blend of hops, which gives it a distinctive hoppy note. 50 Back is quickly spreading across Massachusetts and New England and owners, Paige and Kimberly hope to have it in all 50 states soon.

Fireman’s Beer is another brewery with a purpose. With every product sold, Fireman's Brew donates a portion of its profits to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation in Emmitsburg, Maryland.  Every year, they pledge a percentage of their profits to aid the families of our fallen brothers. Congress created the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation to lead a nationwide effort to honor America's fallen firefighters. Since 1992, the non-profit Foundation has developed and expanded these programs. Their mission is to honor and remember America's fallen fire heroes and to provide resources to assist their survivors in rebuilding their lives.

Carver Brewing Company opened their brewery in 1988. Carver Brewing Company has been proud to share their success by donating generously to local organizations and causes. They have been one of the top sponsors, as a Founders Circle Donor, for the Discovery Museum at the Powerhouse. Through contributions and community fundraisers, Carver Brewing Co. and the Carver family have donated $330,000.00 to the Discovery Museum, an interactive science center for all ages.  In an effort to reduce their environmental impact, Carver’s also sells beer in Growlers. These are refillable jugs that provide to the consumer, with a cheaper better way to buy beer, while also helping the environment. In April 2008 Carver Brewing Co. installed 16 solar collectors, the largest solar hot water system in Durango at the time.

As president of Abita Brewing Co. LLC, David Blossman created Abita Fleur-de-lis Restoration Ale. Restoration came out several weeks after Katrina hit Louisiana, and Abita donated one dollar from each six-pack to the restoration effort, and proceeds from the effort raised $550,000.  Abita ran it through a charity called the Louisiana Foundation Corporation, which was their way to make sure the proceeds stayed in Louisiana.  The beer itself was out in the market for two years, and was a basic golden ale with a mild hop presence and a nice citrus flavor.  Seemingly trying to get the most out of the possible donations, Abita brewed the beer with a lighter mass appeal.

Mark Wilson, Abita Brewery: “I’m not aware of any brewer that has done anything similar to what we did, just because they weren’t faced with a disaster like Katrina.  I’m from Louisiana, the family that owns this company is from Louisiana and we have roots here.  ….but we were spared from the flooding, and also we had very minimal damage, physical damage to the brewery even though our area had a lot of wind damage.  The brewery was pretty much spared.  We just felt like it was something we should do, is to help our neighbors.”

On April 20, 2010, an explosion and fire on Transocean Ltd's drilling rig Deepwater Horizon licensed to BP, killing 11 workers and unleashing the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Researchers say the total amount of oil that poured out from the spill was around 4.4 million barrels. The figure represents the first independent study of the spill and conforms closely to an estimate by government scientists. BP has a long, sordid history of cutting costs in search of higher profits. As of July of this year, Abita Brewing has been seeking to raise funds for its SOS Foundation with its latest charitable beer, “Save Our Shore”. The Charitable fund will donate proceeds to help the Gulf Coast environment, businesses, and people who have been ravaged by the BP Oil spill. In addition, related retail merchandise (hat, tee shirt, lapel pin, decal and car magnet) will be sold and 100% of the net proceeds will also go to the SOS Fund. Abita wanted to pick a style of beer that they didn’t already make and at the time, as they currently have 18 different styles of beer year round. So, Abita went with a stronger pilsner beer, but maintained the light color and drinkability.  Wanting to add a pleasant hop flavor and aroma to the beer, Abita decided to add wheat and the unfiltered weizen-pils hybrid w/ a conscious, was born.

Abita and the Louisiana Seafood Marketing Board are working together to spearhead the campaign, with the 22 ounce specialty pilsner as the top fundraising item. They’ve raised about $220,000 so far, with the first $100,000 given to the Catholic churches and in turn to families devastated by the spill.  75 cents from each bottle sold goes to Gulf oil spill recovery.  The label's SOS lettering is decorated with hand-drawn images of pelicans, shrimp, fish and fishing boats. To find out where you can pick up some SOS, go to the Abita website and click “Find Abita” http://abita.com/find_abita/index.php or visit http://sos.abita.com/.  It’s available in 41 states.

Armand Debelder of Drie Fonteinen Lambics in Beersel, Belgium is known for his expertly blended lambics. The highly respected brewer/blender recently suffered a tragic loss of production at their brewery in May, 2009. The renowned brewery lost 100,000 lambic and gueuze due to a busted thermostat, which turned its storeroom into a kiln. Representing about a third of his annual revenue, this qualified as a serious hit to his business. 

Dogfish Head owner and brewmaster Sam Calagione and Leonardo Di Vincenzo of Italy’s Birra del Borgo are perfect examples of the brotherhood (and sisterhood) among small brewers. Demonstrating the camaraderie and collaboration of brewers, the two decided to craft a charity beer named Namaste, for Drie Fonteinen and the 100,000 fallen beers. A portion of proceeds from Namaste sales aided the Drie Fonteinen brewery. The release party for Namaste was a hit and sold out very quickly. The gesture is heartwarming and shows that good beer can, indeed, bring people together.

The brewing of these charitable beers is not just a message in a bottle, but a commitment to the communities around the country and a statement of respect and international craft beer solidarity.

So, drink up – it’s for a good cause.

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