Beer for Good
On the afternoon of December 30th, high winds coming off the foothills near Boulder, Colorado interacted with a grass fire, causing reported 40-foot flames. Those same winds pushed the fire forward at a rapid pace, causing an emergency evacuation of the nearby town of Superior, and later on in the day, Louisville.
Early in the morning of December 11, 2021, tornadoes swept through Western Kentucky, destroying more than 1,000 properties and killing more than 70 people. Kentuckians and the craft beer community as a whole have a long history of banding together to help each other in times of crisis, and donations poured in almost immediately following the news.
During a year in which COVID-19 continues to affect all aspects of life, how are breweries sustainability goals progressing? To answer this question, I recently interviewed several sustainability leaders in the craft brewing industry. Over the next few weeks, I will share these conversations. My first interview is with Kris Spaulding, Owner and President of Brewery Vivant, which is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Spaulding shared about the brewery’s progress over 2021 and what they hope to accomplish in 2022.
In episode 87 of The PorchCast, Tristan and Bryant made the trek up to Greeley to meet up with the good folks at WeldWerks Brewing, one of the country’s fastest-growing buzzy breweries. They were joined by Kristin Popcheff, Director of People and Culture, Skip Schwartz, the newly anointed Head Brewer, and Roy Van Anda, Community Engagement Manager.
During the initial phases of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the Colorado Brewers Guild (CBG) and the Left Hand Brewing Foundation joined forces to raise funds for the Colorado craft brewing industry by creating a benefit beer, Colorado Strong. For 2021, Colorado Strong returns as an India Pale Ale where proceeds will go towards the Colorado chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) as well as the CBG in support of membership fees and other CBG programs.
In episode 84 of The PorchCast, Tristan, Korey and Bryant were joined by journalist and author, Tara Nurin at Woods Boss Brewing during the Craft Brewers Conference to talk about her new book, A Woman’s Place is in the Brewhouse. We also had a chance to chat with Tara a bit more about her coverage of Brienne Allan’s new Brave Noise collaborative beer project.
If you’ve been a long-time PorchDrinking reader, you’ve likely been aware of how much our friends at On Tap Credit Union have done to support our efforts in covering the craft beer community, while also supporting growth among our Colorado breweries, affiliated producers, and employees.
Many groups in the craft beer industry are underrepresented, including the LGBTQ+ community. When Grace Weitz of Hop Culture let PorchDrinking know that a Queer Beer Festival was launching this year after the success of the Beers With(out) Beards festival, I knew I had to chat with Weitz to learn more about the festival and what sort of virtual events we can expect. The festival will be held on June 5, 2021 and tickets can be purchased here.
We know them. We are them. Fierce Female by Scorched Earth is a West Coast Style IPA brewed to highlight the contributions of women within the industry and around the world. This year, Fierce Female was reimagined. This beer recognizes strong women past and present, while also empowering the next generation of fierce females.
The arts and the hospitality industry are more intertwined than we often consider. When someone has tickets to see a show, it is highly likely they will also go grab food near the venue; they might be making an entire trip out of the event depending on the ticket (“Hamilton,” anyone?). While the hospitality industry has been hugely affected by COVID-19, at least they could have some income coming in. Theatres have been completely shut down, causing thousands of people to be out of work across the country. It is not just actors: It is set builders, costume and makeup designers, conductors, lighting and so many more jobs that are involved in live theatre.
We have all seen how beer can help make a difference, from the Black is Beautiful collaboration to the newly-launched Curtain Up Beer Project. So, when Savagewood Brewing Co. wanted to collaborate with female beer blogger Beer Babe Jess (Jessica Merritt), they immediately knew they wanted the collaboration to be for a good cause. The end result is Pouring It Forward, a Raspberry Ale featuring a special hop blend from the Pink Boots Society (Ahtanum, Cashmere, Citra, Loral and Sabro) with proceeds going towards the Big Sister League in San Diego.
The phrase “Sitting down over a beer” is part of the American lexicon. Friends discuss work, marriages, money, politics, sports or even physical health. But, what about mental health? Why does that seem so rare? As well, craft brewers, who routinely engage in community support, have not addressed mental health until recently. Maybe it’s because it seems hypocritical to produce alcohol and note support for mental health; but that’s a stigma that many hope to change. Malteurop Malting Co., Hollingbery & Son Hops, Eagle Park Brewing, Hope for the Day and many others have kick-started a collaboration beer called “Things We Don’t Say IPA” in an attempt to make mental health discussions as common as Monday morning quarterbacking. This is not to say that one should have a beer when feeling down. Simply, it’s that that people who make and/or enjoy beer should not only feel okay discussing the topic, but be happy to do so.
As much as the brewery and restaurant industry has been hit in the wake of COVID-19, live theatre has essentially seen an entire shutdown. While there have been wonderful virtual performances (yes, I do still watch Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski and Audra McDonald perform Ladies Who Lunch on a weekly basis), nothing beats the thrill of going to a live musical, play or comedy show. As someone who performed in comedy theatres across Chicago, my heart aches when I think of how many theatres will need to close and how many working actors have struggled through the past year.
Most people of color living in majority-white countries regularly encounter racism, be it violent, cruel and open prejudice or nasty little microaggressions. Sadly, this is a fact. But what do you do when your job, your hobby or both are imbued with structural racism? When it stops being about individual attitudes and becomes about organizational and institutional frameworks and hierarchies that, in their very nature, are skewed to exclude people of color?
Message from the author: This story discusses suicide and other sensitive themes concerning mental health in an adult manner. While the intent of this reporting is to help destigmatize conversations about mental health, its content may be sensitive to some readers. In addition, it includes dialogue that contains explicit language, which has been left unedited out of respect for the authenticity of the interview that was conducted.
Please take this into consideration before reading.
They say when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. In Colorado, when wildfires torch your county… you make beer. Six craft breweries in Grand County have crafted the East Troublesome Pale Ale in response to the East Troublesome Fire that raged for more than a month in their backyard. All proceeds for this beer will be donated to The Grand Foundation to support those that have been affected by the East Troublesome Fire.
Sunday, December 20, marks the 10-year anniversary for one of Grand Rapids, Michigan’s most celebrated breweries: Brewery Vivant. The brewery is the world’s first LEED certified commercial microbrewery and a Certified B Corporation. It is beloved among Michigan’s beer loving community for their Belgium-style brews, as well as their commitment to the local community. To celebrate 10 years, on December 17 the brewery released J’aison, a Petite Saison brewed with orange peel and Tellicherry black peppercorns. It is currently available on draft and in cans for sale at the brewpub.
One of the greatest things about the craft beer community is the community itself. Without a large group of like-minded individuals drinking it and bonding over it, craft beer would simply be a liquid with a curious chemical composition. And when tragedy strikes, breweries are often among the first to rally support, most often with a collaboration release.
In lieu of the old adage, “have your cake and eat it too,” this year’s motto for Creature Comforts Brewing Company in Athens, GA should be: “drink your beer and do good, too.” This holiday season, grab a physical or virtual seat at your dining table with Creature Comforts’ Table Beer.
Table Beer, a Belgian-style Session Ale, is refreshing and floral, yet light and subtle. Even though the body is light and the ABV is low, there is an earthy balance and a peppery bite behind a hop-forward aroma and flavor. The finish is dry and cleansing, as the delicate mouthfeel readies your palate for another sip, soup or salad. At 4.2% ABV, Table Beer is an incredible pairing no matter what holiday meals you enjoy.
While this year continues to be a harrowing one for most across the country, residents of Northern Colorado have had a particularly trying summer as forest fires ravaged significant parts of the state.