When wildfires ravaged wide swaths of northern California in 2018, about 1,500 breweries across the country joined Sierra Nevada Brewing in making a beer, the Resilience IPA, that raised $15 million for relief efforts.
Now, even as their own livelihoods are threatened, brewers across the globe are thinking philanthropically once more. A new collaborative beer — that is, one that participating breweries will make individually following the same base recipe — aims to help out the service industry devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. Started by New York’s Other Half Brewing, the worldwide initiative is called All Together.
So far, almost 450 breweries from 40 states and 29 countries have signed up to make the All Together beer. Other Half provided the recipe, to which each beer maker can add their own twist, and brought on other companies, Stout Collective and Blue Label Packaging, to provide label artwork for free and label printing at cost. Each of the All Together beers won’t necessarily taste the same, but their cans will look nearly identical.
And they’ll all have the same purpose. A portion of the proceeds from each All Together brew will go toward the support of hospitality industry workers in each community; the rest, as the All Together website notes, "should go to keeping you in business to weather this storm."
Widespread closures implemented to curb the spread of the coronavirus have reduced revenue for Texas breweries by an average 71%, according to the Texas Craft Brewers Guild. The numbers are similarly dire across the U.S., according to the Brewers Association, with closures expected in the weeks to come.
In Austin, Jester King Brewery and St. Elmo Brewing have confirmed they are participating in the All Together beer initiative. Making the beer was a no-brainer to them, despite increasingly tight finances.
"This is really just what the brewing industry does," St. Elmo co-founder Bryan Winslow said. "We are intricately involved in engaging with our community, bringing people together, and lifting everyone up together. In the past, we've brewed special beers for Habitat for Humanity, the California fires, Equality Texas, and the Girls Empowerment Network, to name a few."
He said that as soon as the St. Elmo team, which is among the many breweries in Austin offering curbside pick-up of their beer, heard about the All Together project, they made room for it in their brewing schedule. The beer, a West Coast IPA, will come out around May 15. The South Austin brewery plans to donate proceeds to the Southern Smoke Foundation, which delivers funds to people in the food and beverage industry in need.
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Jester King founder Jeff Stuffings also thought participating in the All Together collaboration was a good idea, as it’ll help shine a light on the plight of small businesses like his that aren’t profitable while they’re closed to the public.
"Hospitality professionals have been asked to sacrifice for the good of their country," he said. "It's important they get as much help as possible as a result. I think it's great that this collaboration should create more awareness."
The farmhouse brewery has been offering to-go sales, too, but he said they aren’t going to be enough in the long term. Jester King has applied for help under the Payroll Protection Program in the CARES Act, the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package that Congress approved at the end of last month. About $350 billion of that total package is devoted to the program, which is giving loans to small businesses affected by the pandemic.
"If this materialized for us, this will be the first real, tangible help we've received, which is significant," he said of the CARES loans.