Cultures

Our Favorite Craft Beers That Give Back

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Our Favorite Craft Beers That Give Back

From a consumer’s point of view, the rise of craft beer and the independent breweries that produce them is a blessing from the gods of alcohol themselves, allowing us to sample a greater selection of unique beers for cheaper prices. But it also offers a new market for independent entrepreneurs to create brews they love and build new companies.

And while the word “company” might imply an unwavering commitment to the bottom line, many craft breweries are using their profits to help support great causes. We’re celebrating the philanthropic side of the craft beer industry by recounting how just a few of these breweries are finding ways to give back. Here are our favorite craft beers that give back.

Image: Finnegans

Image: Finnegans

Finnegan’s Amber and Blonde Ale varieties are available in more than 2,000 stores in the northern Midwest, with sales and locations growing each subsequent year. Their mission is to use their business model to turn beer into food to provide for the hungry, and they’ve done an impressive job of it, becoming the first beer company to give 100% of their profits to charity, specifically to farmers who give their produce to local food banks and soup kitchens. CEO and founder Jacquie Berglund applies her knowledge of macroeconomics to her entrepreneurial endeavors, always using the profits from her for-profit brewery to funnel into the non-profit Finnegan’s Community Fund—an unusual but righteous business setup.

Reuben’s Brews, located in the heart of Seattle’s biggest craft brewing neighborhood Ballard, doesn’t manage anything as impressive and unselfish as Finnegan’s, but co-founder Adam Robbings found a simple way to devote some of his profits to local nonprofits. Reuben’s hosts Thank You Thursdays every week in honor of various charities, an idea he picked up from a Craft Brewer’s Conference. Essentially, one dollar of every pint purchased on Thursday goes towards the featured nonprofit, supporting various community fixtures and causes with each passing week.

Still other breweries find unique ways to market themselves and devote their brands to specific causes, including the relatively new Dog Tag Brewing. Each can of their beer is dedicated in honor of a fallen American soldier, telling stories of their courage and raising awareness of Gold Star-related initiatives. The business is structured something like Finnegan’s with the profits of Dog Tag Brewing, LLC going into the Dog Tag Brewing Foundation, a nonprofit arm devoted to supporting projects that celebrate and remember American soldiers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

It seems acquiring both a for-profit and nonprofit branch is a worthy system for craft brewers, as Oskar Blues Brewery (located in North Carolina and Colorado) has done roughly the same thing with their Can’d Aid project. The foundation is devoted to helping out other efforts, including rebuilding communities affected by disaster and local cleanup efforts, as well as organizing their own events centered around things they love, like bikes, music, food, sports and more, devoting all their proceeds to great causes. Whether it’s recycling, teaching, fitness, or rebuilding, the craft beer-adjacent Can’d Aid foundation is out there ready to support it.

There are smaller ways to give back too, even simply by structuring your company in an unusual fashion. For example, a pair of Toronto-based brewers are opening their Halo Brewery in the trendy neighborhood Junction Triangle, offering their own home-brewed concoctions, as well as recipes for every one of their beers. The simple system allows anyone to try their hand at recreating their craft beers at home. The decision to share their intellectual property so readily might seem counter-intuitive, but if it works, it will likely boost the Halo brand’s visibility while encouraging drinkers to experiment with their own home-brewing efforts.

Many breweries pool their efforts in order to raise more money for good causes, including the dozen Colorado brewers who organize the annual Tour de BoulDurango. The six-day event sees hundreds of cyclists making the 476-mile trek from Boulder to Durango, each day ending in a fundraising event at a nearby brewery. All proceeds of the event go to Bicycle Colorado, a nonprofit devoted to improving safety and access to bicyclists across the state. The entire event is a testament to the collaborative spirit of the craft beer market, as independent brewers like Ska Brewing, Avery Brewing and Boulder Beer Co. come together in honor of a worthy cause.

Regardless of the methodology each brewer may choose, these craft brewers are using this booming industry to experiment with new business models that focus on helping others as well as themselves. What are your favorite beers that give back? Be sure to share with us in the comments.

Jeffrey Rindskopf is a freelance writer living in Seattle. He was born and raised in southern California, where he attended college at Chapman University and majored in film and journalism.

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