The name Save the World Brewing Co. isn’t a high-minded statement about what the brewers at this Marble Falls brewery think of themselves and their project. It actually describes the philanthropic mission at the heart of Dave and Quynh Rathkamp’s new project.
Once they pay their two full-time employees, purchase brewing supplies and ingredients, and pay for shipping costs, the Rathkamps — Dave doesn’t have a salary right now — donate the remaining profits from beer sales to three charities.
It had always been a goal for Quynh Rathkamp to work for a nonprofit once she retired from her job as a physician, which she currently does three days a week in Dallas. So it only made sense to Dave Rathkamp to add a philanthropic element to the brewery that’s been about two years in the making, ever since he got serious about his hobby and went to brewing school. They researched charities that would be worth donating to and now give to international nonprofit Food for the Hungry, national nonprofit Meals on Wheels and local nonprofit Habitat for Humanity Highland Lakes.
All of them, Dave said, "give the most amount of the money they get and don’t pay a lot to CEO salaries."
Right now, with the brewery so new and beer sales about only two weeks along, Save the World is giving about 10 percent of the brewery’s gross income to the charities.
"We’ll see what the final numbers are at the end of the year and write the big checks," Dave said. "In the meantime, we’ll give as much as we can away."
He and Quynh want to be transparent about how much that amount is, which is why they might post end-of-the-year tax records to Save the World’s website. Dave said they know they might get some criticism for donating such a low amount at this time, but it’s important with the fledgling business to be able to pay their employees (it also helps, he noted, that the brewery has no debt and no investors to pay).
The idea for the brewery first began to germinate a couple years ago, when he felt a little jaded about his job — he was also a physician — and asked himself what he truly liked to do.
As he notes on the website, "I thought seriously about how I liked to spend my free time, what I would read about, what I loved to talk about, what things would make me lose track of time because I was so enjoying the moment. The answer was making beer."
So after 15 years of homebrewing, he retired from his job and took brewing courses through the American Brewers Guild, tough classes that delved into subjects such as chemistry, engineering and microbiology. He then had an internship at the Lost Abbey in California and also helped out at Dallas’ Lakewood Brewing before forming the concept behind Save the World.
Besides giving to charity, Save the World focuses on something else near and dear to Dave Rathkamp’s heart: Belgian-style beers. Belgian beers, after all, had been the reason he got into craft brewing after drinking Miller Lite at college keggers and deciding he didn’t like beer. But during his residency in New Orleans, he met a cardiology fellow from Belgium who introduced him to Chimay. "I tried it and the heavens parted," he said.
Save the World currently has four Belgian-style lower-alcohol beers on the market, a witbier, patersbier, Belgian pale ale and saison. There will soon be a higher-alcohol beer being released, a tripel, and after that, a Belgian strong golden ale, a Belgian barleywine and a biere de garde. All are in bottles and cost between $6 and $7. Draft beers are only going to be available at the brewery tap room.
A favorite of Dave’s is the tripel. "Ours is about 8 percent (ABV)," he said. "It’s not knock your socks off, but it’s definitely a sipper, not an all-day drinker. Whereas our golden strong is 10 percent and our barleywine is just under 12 percent. It’s a big boy."
These stronger beers will come out in the coming months, once he and head brewer Alex Payson have broken in the 20-barrel brewhouse. Dave hopes that by the end of the year, Quynh will be able to move down to Marble Falls and work full-time at the brewery with them and the sales and distribution director, Matthew Lambing, and that they can get a tap room up and running with the sale of their Dallas home.
And, of course, that they can continue to donate proceeds of beer sales to charity. It’s a business model he’d like to see spread not just among craft breweries, but among all businesses.
"Hopefully other businesses look at craft breweries and ask why people love them and why their businesses are taking off," Dave said. "Hopefully they see we are giving back to the community and they decide to do the same."
Find Save the World brews at places like the Whip In, WhichCraft Beer Store and a couple Twin Liquors locations. For a full list of places and more information, visit www.savetheworldbrewing.com.