One of Texas’ most prominent breweries teamed up with lauded Austin pitmaster Aaron Franklin to release a pilsner at his annual food and music bonanza, Hot Luck Festival. That had been the plan, anyway, and then the coronavirus pandemic upturned it, as it has done with pretty much everything else.


But Karbach Brewing has decided to go forward with the beer, launching it for a good cause. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Southern Smoke Foundation, the charity of James Beard Award-winning Houston chef Chris Shepherd that supports and assists service industry workers. So far, the nonprofit has distributed more than $632,000 to 329 people working in food and beverage who have been affected by the pandemic.


There’s no set release date for the unnamed pilsner, however. In the meantime, Karbach has another beer Texans can buy that will also benefit the Southern Smoke Foundation’s emergency relief fund. As of this week, the Houston-based brewery will donate $1 to the foundation for every case equivalent of the Karbach Love Street Kolsch purchased to go at bars and restaurants across the state.


Helping out the service industry, the "backbone" of many communities, was a no-brainer, Karbach brand manager David Graham said.


It also made sense to add the philanthropic element to the release of the pilsner collaboration with Franklin and, now, Shepherd. Franklin, the owner of now-curbside-focused Franklin Barbecue, isn’t simply attaching his name to the clean, crisp beer — he was involved in its creation every step of the way, Graham said.


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"Every aspect of the beer — from the creation of the name, recipe formulation and the design of the can — is a true collaboration," he said. "When this beer was originally being discussed, Aaron knew he wanted to focus on a pilsner, which was music to our brewer's ears as we love the German style of brewing. ... Before the current shutdown, we had some barbecue and drank some test brews with Aaron, and we’re excited to taste the next batch with a few of the tweaks we made."


He noted that it’s still a work-in-progress, but everyone involved in the collaboration will have a say in the final result so it’s "something we are all proud of."


The release date remains a moving target, he said, because of the coronavirus. Before the pandemic, the pilsner would have debuted at late May’s Hot Luck Fest, which was canceled outright last month.