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Beto, but beer: Meet Circle Brewing’s new civic-minded seasonal

One North Austin brewery is diving into political waters with the release of its newest seasonal beer — Beto — a pale ale that brewers are hoping will inspire people to head to the polls in November to vote in the midterm elections.

Circle Brewing will debut the Beto beer on Aug. 18 at a party where you can register to vote. The beer is a nod to Beto O’Rourke, the Democrat challenging Republican incumbent Ted Cruz for his U.S. Senate seat. O’Rourke has made waves with his unconventional grassroots campaign, visiting all of Texas’ 254 counties and inviting a nearly unfettered view into his life with Facebook Live and other social media tools.

Though Circle supports O’Rourke’s campaign, the brewery wants to make clear to its fans that they don’t have to. The important thing is to be politically engaged, voting in the upcoming elections.

“Our goal (with the Beto beer) is not to drive a political wedge, but rather bridge the gap in an increasingly hostile and virulent political climate,” Circle co-founder Ben Sabel said in a news release. “We think the best way to do that is take a positive stand, openly and open-mindedly discuss pressing political issues, and most importantly, encourage fellow Austinites and Texans to participate in their democracy by voting for what they believe in.”

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Once the Beto beer launches in mid-August, it will remain on tap around Austin and San Antonio through the Nov. 6 midterms. The pale ale has prominent floral and citrus notes thanks to the contribution of Ekuanot and Cascade hops and three types of malts. 

A portion of the proceeds from the Beto beer release party on Aug. 18 will be donated to RAICES, a nonprofit that has been instrumental in assisting immigrant families that have been separated at the border. 

O’Rourke’s campaign does not accept monetary donations from businesses, so Circle Brewing does not financially support the candidate, according to the news release. The brewery and its new Beto beer are also not affiliated with O’Rourke.

Circle’s decision to name a beer after a U.S. senatorial candidate might well be the boldest political statement a Texas brewery has made. Several breweries, however, have hosted fundraisers, often called Beers for Beto, in their taprooms. St. Elmo Brewing in South Austin and the Brewtorium Brewery & Kitchen off Airport Boulevard have been among the Beers for Beto locations.

Last summer, Friends & Allies Brewing released the Impeach Peach Saison with a label illustration — a peach whose leaves resemble one of the most recognizable hairdos in the Western world — that served as a clear jab at President Donald Trump.

The organization that represents Texas breweries, the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, launched a political action committee, CraftPAC, early this year to support legislation, legislative candidates and other political initiatives that guild leaders said will benefit the industry’s continued growth. 

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