One of the world’s greatest beer producers, California, has been increasingly hard hit by forest fires the past few years.
Just last year Santa Rosa, home to Russian River Brewing Co., had devastating wildfires. And then, this past November, California experienced the worst wildfire in state history with 153,000 acres of forest, nearly 14,000 homes and 86 people lost in the blaze.
Just a few miles away from the hardest hit town of Paradise lies Chico, home to Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. While it looked as though the brewery might be yet another casualty of the disaster, it was spared by the Camp Fire’s wrath.
Almost immediately the brewery created the Sierra Nevada Camp Fire Relief Fund (https://www.sierranevada.com/camp-fire-relief-fund). In addition to the fund, the brewery also announced that it would brew a beer with all of the profits going to the charity -- and they asked every brewery in the country to brew it with them. (Sierra also received donated malt and hops from suppliers.)
Sierra Nevada and the company’s founder Ken Grossman has established his brand as not only an innovative industry leader, but Grossman can be credited for being one of the driving forces behind reigniting craft beer in the U.S. post-prohibition. As a result, the company’s reputation precedes itself, as does its dedication to giving back to the community.
So, it was no surprise that the response from breweries across the nation was a strong one, with almost 1,500 breweries getting on board with the collaborative idea.
According to a recent interview with Sierra Nevada founder Ken Grossman on BeerAdvocate.com, Sierra brewed 5,000 barrels of Resilience Butte County Proud IPA, while breweries across the country chipped in an additional 13,000 barrels using the same recipe. Grossman expects to raise close to $15 million for the cause.
While such contributions may seem to pale in comparison to the billions of dollars in damage, as they say, every little bit counts.
Such teamwork is uncommon in today’s multi-national, monopolistic, corporate business atmosphere, be it beer, or any other enterprise. But outliers like Sierra Nevada Brewing show a different kind of leadership where environment, community and collaborations are factored into the bottom line.
When such capitalism with a conscience prevails it is an inspiration to businesses small and large -- and in this case it also tastes great!
This week’s recommendation: Resilience Butte County Proud IPA, a fresh-hopped collaborative IPA. 6.8 percent ABV. Chico, California (and around the nation).
[Editor’s note: Saranac brewed up a batch and participated in “Resilience Night” 12/20 in Utica at the 1888 Tavern.]
Colin Hubbell is co-owner of the Green Onion Pub and The Beer Hub in South Utica, New York.