Brewing for Social Change

I probably don't have to tell you this, but I love the craft beer industry. There are many things to love about the industry, but one of the things that I have seen as a growing trend that really sets the craft breweries apart from the macro beer factories is how craft breweries are not just brewing beer to make a profit - they're using their craft and their influence to impact the communities they live in.

This may not be news to many who follow craft brewing news, but I wanted to give some kudos to a few breweries who I think are doing it right.

I'll start with a beer that was released this summer here in NC called "Don't Be Mean To People." This beer is described as "a golden rule saison," and it was brewed as a response to the NC Legislature's passing of House Bill 2 (HB2), better known as "The Bathroom Bill." I won't get into the political details of it, but this bill effectively promotes discrimination against transgender people in our state in many ways - not least of which was the requirement that they use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender on their birth certificate.

The beer was a collaboration, led by the folks at Ponysaurus Brewing (Durham, NC) and Mystery Brewing (Hillsborough, NC), involving many other North Carolina breweries who all donated time, money, and ingredients. The brewing of the beer was funded through a Indegogo campaign where people could make a donation, guaranteeing them a few cans of the finished product. Every penny of  profit from the beer was then donated to Equality NC and QORDS, two organizations in North Carolina that are dedicated to creating equality for the LBGTQ community.

Another example of using beer for social good was by Cigar City Brewing (Tampa Bay, FL). They brewed a beer called "Let's Get Beers Together," and donated 100% of the proceeds from the sales to the OneOrlando Fund, a fund put together to raise money for the victims of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando this summer.

Lastly, Oskar Blues Brewery has, on many occasions, used their canning line to package cans of water to send to disaster-stricken areas across the country, including most recently, to citizens of Flint, MI, while their tap water was not fit to drink. 

These are just a few of what I'm sure are many, many examples of using beer to help others. We try to do our best to make a positive impact here in Durham, by donating to many local charities and sponsoring the Team On Draft cycling team, who raises money for the  National MS Society, and assisting by hosting fundraisers for groups such as the Ronald McDonald House.

Critics may say that this is not unique to the beer industry, and not unique to small/craft breweries, but I would counter and say that in an industry where a lot of time-intensive, hard, manual labor and work goes into making an artful product that is then sold for razor-thin margins, it is extremely impressive to see these small businesses taking the time and care to play an active role in their communities. It inspires me to make sure that our little shop continues to give back as much as we're able.