Indiana Breweries Produce Beer to Help With California Wild Fire Devastation

Indiana Breweries Produce Beer to Help With California Wild Fire Devastation

by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap

Craft beer is noted for being a community of big hearts – people who help people. This happens everyday in every state, from providing a sixtel of beer for a neighborhood association meeting to managing daily beer-it-forward projects where a percentage of every pint goes to a charity of the patron’s selection. In Indiana alone the examples are too numerous to mention all – Metazoa donating 5% of profits to animal rescue and conservation, South Bend Brew Werks and Auburn Brewing with beer-it-forward or beer-for-good campaigns, Triton providing internship opportunities for aspiring brewers and business students at Wabash College – the list goes on and on.

Now there is a special project being spearheaded by Sierra Nevada Brewing in Chico, CA. Their immediate environment has been decimated by the Camp and Woolsey fires which began earlier this month. The Camp Fire (started on Nov. 8th) has destroyed more than 13,000 personal residences and has caused more than $10 billion in damage. Most sadly, it is the deadliest fire since 1918, with 86 confirmed civilian deaths and more than 500 people still missing as of Thanksgiving Day.

The fire has burned the area immediately to the east of the Chico brewing facility; more than 10% of Sierra Nevada’s workforce has been displaced and the brewery itself was threatened early in the timeline of the disaster. Sierra Nevada immediately started raising money for the displaced and affected people and helped serve Thanksgiving dinner to more than 2000 persons, but has now initiated a fundraiser that a lot more breweries are helping with.

image credit: Sierra Nevada Brewing

Fundraisers are a staple of craft beer; practically every craft beer festival held has a charity partner or partners. Bier Brewery recently did a fundraiser for Jason Seaman’s foundation with a collaboration beer with JT Walkers Brewery in Illinois called Small Town Hero. Bare Hands and other breweries have held fundraisers for patrons or employees going through significant health crises. On a larger scale, the breweries of Portland brewed a beer to raise money for the National Brain Tumor Society. The Brewers Association stated that in 2016 (the last year we have numbers for) craft beer raised over $73.4 million for charity.

The fundraiser being led by Sierra Nevada Brewing’s founder Ken Grossman involves brewing an IPA called Resilience Butte County Proud. One hundred percent of the proceeds taken in from the sale of the beer will go to the Sierra Nevada Camp Fire Relief Foundation. They are making the recipe freely available to any brewery that signs a pledge to donate all the proceeds from the sale of Resilience to the foundation.

Sierra Nevada will be brewing Resilience on November 27th, the day known as Giving Tuesday. The 2000 barrel batch will have an anticipated distribution and tapping in early 2019. So far, over 400 breweries have signed on to join Sierra Nevada in this endeavor, and several malt and hop suppliers have consented to donate ingredients for the beer. The website listing all the participating breweries grows each day, and includes three breweries from Indiana – 2Toms Brewing in Fort Wayne, and both Black Acre Brewing and Fountain Square Brew Co. in Indianapolis so far.

Tom Carpenter of 2Toms told me, “We are brewing the beer (10 bbl) on Tuesday November 27. BSG is helping with the grain and we had the hops on hand. The beer should be on tap in roughly three weeks. We will have the beer on tap and possibly limited crowler fills.” He added, “I have been to the Chico area a handful of times; the devastation and hurt in the area is just heart wrenching. Someone tagged us in a post and next thing I know we were in touch with Sierra Nevada.”

image credit: Indiana On Tap merge of images by 2Toms, Black Acre, and Fountain Square.

This project is just the sort of thing that members of the craft beer community want to participate in, so Tom is inviting his taproom staff to help brew Resilience on the 27th. This spirit of people pitching in was reiterated by Mike Grap, head brewer at Fountain Square Brew. He told me, “I lived on the Gulf Coast for 15+ years. We were no strangers to disasters, and helping out was something you just did. Whether it was helping your neighbor clear out downed trees or keeping their beer cold if you had extra ice, you just did it. But it wasn’t just the local community helping out. There would always be folks from elsewhere pitching in. Other states would send their utility workers & trucks to help clear debris & restore power. Church & social clubs would organize food, clothing, & toiletries drives. Those kinds of actions stick with you.”

Fountain Square will also be brewing 10 bbls of Resilience on the 27th, with a planned tapping date of the December 10th. BSG (malt) and YCH (hops) are working with Fountain Square, while the yeast, kegs, time, and 100% of the proceeds are being donated by Brad, Mike and the FS gang. As of now, Fountain Square Brew is planning on keeping all the beer in house, but that could change.

It’s heartening to see this kind of action from craft breweries, but it certainly isn’t surprising. Craft beer always has, and will continue to, help out when and where they can. Nothing stands in their way of putting people before profits. Indiana On Tap urges everyone to monitor the Sierra Nevada webpage showing which breweries are participating, and to seek out Resilience IPA as our (the craft beer fans’) way of helping out as well.

Update: Since publication, several more Indiana breweries have joined the effort, including 3 Floyds Brewing, Auburn Brewing, Bare Hands BreweryBurn ‘Em Brewing, Crown Brewing, Figure Ei8ht Brewing, LaOtto Brewing, Scarlet Lane Brewing, Shoreline Brewery, Trubble Brewing, and Wasser Brewing. This is a nice contingent of breweries and they represent Indiana well.

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