Brewing for a cause
HOW: Help the cause by quaffing pints of Resilience IPA at Wander Brewing (1807 Dean Ave.) or Boundary Bay Brewery (1107 Railroad Ave.) throughout December. If you are hop-adverse, you can also donate directly to the Camp Fire Relief Fund at http://www.sierranevada.com
Wednesday, December 19, 2018
Unprecedented disaster calls for an unprecedented response.
That is the thought, at least, behind the Resilience Butte County Proud IPA, the latest creation from Sierra Nevada Brewery—whose flagship location resides in Chico, Calif., directly adjacent to the recent Camp Fire in the state’s Butte County. The IPA is being brewed as a fundraiser for those directly affected by the fire.
This is no ordinary IPA. Sure, it’s a traditional West Coast IPA, brewed with Centennial and Cascade hops with a floral sweetness and a sizable bitter kick. But beyond the fact that it is a fundraising beer, Sierra Nevada wanted to do something bigger to support what will surely be a long and arduous rebuilding of the community. They decided to use their considerable size and reach out to the network of fellow brewers across the country with a question: If we can get you the supplies, will you brew the Resilience IPA?
“The response has been completely overwhelming,” Sierra Nevada spokesperson Robin Gregory says. “More than 1,100 other breweries have signed up to brew Resilience—and donate 100 percent of the proceeds to the Camp Fire Relief Fund.”
Bellingham, lacking neither altruism nor breweries, heeded the call and starting Wed., Dec. 19 you’ll be able to order a pint of Resilience IPA at Wander Brewing and Boundary Bay Brewery.
Wander Brewing was quick to offer up their services in support after seeing Sierra Nevada’s post on social media. “It was really a no-brainer,” Wander co-owner Chad Kuehl says. “We didn’t realize how big of a thing it was going to turn into with the whole craft-beer industry getting behind it.”
Wanting to make the process as simple as possible, Sierra Nevada secured donations for grain and hops so that breweries only had to supply the space, time and labor for the brewing. After submitting a short form, Kuehl says, Sierra Nevada provided them with a brewing recipe, promotional materials and a suggested social media posting.
Kuehl said he had heard from other breweries that wanted to help, but couldn’t fit the brew into their schedule. “As a medium-sized brewery, we’re usually planning one or two weeks out and we’re pretty fluid and agile,” he says. They started to brew Resilience the week after Thanksgiving, on Giving Tuesday.
Kuehl and his wife, Wander co-owner Colleen Kuehl, also have a personal connection to Sierra Nevada beer. After they finished school, they spent their early adulthood living in San Francisco, drinking Sierra Nevada regularly.
“California was our home,” Kuehl says. “We got married out there, we served Sierra at our wedding. It was the beer of our mid-20s that we all drank, that got us turned on to craft beer.”
The Camp Fire—with 86 fatalities, it’s the deadliest wildfire in California history—has been 100 percent contained, but the work of rebuilding and recovering has not yet begun in earnest. At 155,000 acres, the fire essentially destroyed the town of Paradise and leveled more than 18,000 structures, nearly 14,000 of which were residences. Many lucky enough to have come out with their lives and houses intact have still not been able to return to survey the damage firsthand.
About 12 miles west of Paradise and 90 miles north of Sacramento, Sierra Nevada’s brewery in Chico remains. But they were unquestionably affected by the fire. “We had about 15 percent of our employees lose their homes,” Gregory says. “On Friday, after the fire began, we evacuated the brewery as well.
“While it’s been very sad and terrifying, it’s also been a pretty incredible show of the strength of the human spirit. Every business in town, every person I know has been taking people in, saying ‘What can I do to help?’ It’s been pretty amazing to see the community really come together.”
When they returned after their voluntary evacuation, the team at Sierra Nevada wasted no time in jumping in to help. They opened up their kitchen to feed first responders and those that were displaced. Many fleeing the fire didn’t have time to pack clothes, so Sierra Nevada opened their gift shop and donated T-shirts and sweatshirts to those in need. These gestures of support were a great start, but it was clear that the real work would begin when the fire was finally out.
“We knew that long-term support was probably what was going to be what was most needed,” Gregory says. “So we established the Sierra Nevada Camp Fire Relief Fund.” The Resilience IPA followed.
Gregory also states that it isn’t too late for other breweries to get involved. Sierra is asking that anyone that wants to help out, home-brewers included, get in touch with them in the next month or two.
Wander’s batch is being released with the intent to “get that beer sold and in people’s hands as quickly as possible so we can cut the check and get the money where it needs to go,” Kuehl says.
As for how long Resilence IPA will be for sale at the brewery, Kuehl notes it “depends on how quickly people drink it!”
Asa Deane is a beer enthusiast originally from the Sierra Nevada mountains of Central California. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale first piqued Asa’s interest in craft brewing and is still a staple of his beer consumption to this day. Bellingham’s brewery explosion has provided ample opportunity for Asa to sip his way around town.
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