Denver brewers join national effort for fire relief

Nearly 90 Colorado breweries helped raise money

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The beer industry across the nation is a tight-knit one. So when one of their own sent out an email asking for help to raise funds for Camp Fire relief, many breweries jumped at the chance — 1,482 of them in fact.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is not far from the fire in Butte County that leveled the town of Paradise, California. The brewery quickly sent out the cry for help, hoping others would come together to raise money. Colorado breweries rallied in force, with nearly 90 signing up to brew the Resilience Butte County Proud IPA, including Fort Collins-based New Belgium Brewing, one of the state’s largest beer producers. From neighborhood breweries to big beer producers like Blue Moon Brewing Co., Denver breweries wanted to support the movement.

“Being part of our community is important, and that means all community,” said Laura Worley, co-owner of Burns Family Artisan Ales. “This is the biggest collaboration project ever, and that’s an honor.”

John Legnard, who brewed Resilience for Blue Moon along with John Garvin, said working on this project was a “no-brainer” for him. He has a friend who works at Sierra Nevada and received the email on the collaboration shortly after he checked in to make sure that friend was OK. Not only do brewers create community within their local area, he said, but many in the industry are connected across the country.

“We’ve got a lot of connections in the industry,” Legnard said. “When somebody as well organized as Sierra Nevada puts something together, you know it’s going to be a success.”

On the week of the Thanksgiving holiday, Sierra Nevada founder Ken Grossman sent out the email asking brewers to help: Sierra Nevada would give out the recipe for Resilience if breweries would donate 100 percent of the proceeds toward the Camp Fire Relief Fund.

“We know that the rebuilding process will take time, but we’re in this for the long haul,” the letter read. “Our hope is to get Resilience IPA in taprooms all over the country to create a solid start for our community’s future.”

Sierra Nevada is based in Chico, California. While staff at the brewery wanted a large number of breweries to make Resilience, the response has been much greater than expected. Robin Gregory, a spokesperson for the company, said they were anticipating about 200 breweries. Instead, breweries have signed on to make about 17,000 barrels of Resilience across the country.

“We’ve been absolutely overwhelmed with gratitude and how the brewing community stepped forward with this one,” she said.

If all the breweries sell every drop of Resilience, there is the potential to raise about $10 million for Camp Fire relief, Gregory said.

In addition to sending the recipe, Sierra Nevada worked with its hop distributors to donate ingredients. This way, there was less cost for brewers. Sierra Nevada will be canning its version of Resilience, which is being distributed across the country. Distributors are delivering the beer for free as well, Gregory said.

It has been a heartwarming experience for many, and Gregory said it showed that some things were “more important than business.”

Worley of Burns Family Artisan Ales agreed, adding, “there’s a lot of selflessness in this industry.”

For many in the Colorado beer industry, the wildfires were something that hit close to home. Jordan Fink of Woods Boss was formerly a firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service and still volunteers to fight fires on occasion. Kate Power of Lady Justice Brewing said the fire felt close, even though the event itself was thousands of miles away. But with Sierra Nevada pulling so many companies together for a cause, she hopes people see this as an opportunity to get breweries to work together again.

“This was a chance to do something different while still engaging,” Power said. “It would be a really cool thing to see this grow.”

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