It’s been a long month of natural disasters. Actually it’s been a long couple of years of natural disasters. As storms, fires, and calamities increasingly pound the U.S. and the world, it’s easy to feel a little helpless. Thankfully, breweries are stepping in to pick up where the federal government left off, offering an array of philanthropic efforts for disaster relief. It’s easy to be a cynic and say these are just marketing endeavors, but it doesn’t matter. All help is good help.
In South Florida, in the wake of Hurricane Irma, Funky Buddha Brewery announced a blonde ale made with Key limes called Florida Rebuilds. Total sales — not just profits — go to the non-profit Children of Restaurant Employees that aids children and families that go through a “life-altering circumstance.” Having your hometown lose tourism (the No. 1 source of income in the Keys) and fishing (the second) for a month certainly qualifies as “life-altering.”
“We just want these folks to be able to pay their bills and feed their families,” Funky Buddha’s brand manager John Linn told the Miami Herald. Linn hopes to reach $100,000 in sales. Constellation Brands, which purchased Funky Buddha earlier this year, will match up to $50,000 in fundraising.
Golden Road Brewing in L.A. is also helping those impacted by Hurricane Irma. All of the sales of a beer called Sunshine State are given to the Habitat for Humanity of Florida and H.A.L.O. Rescue to assist in hurricane relief efforts. Like Florida Rebuilds, Sunshine State is a blonde ale infused with citrus, but uses blood orange instead of Key limes.
Three Tampa, Florida breweries — Green Bench Brewing, Coppertail Brewing, and 7venth Sun Brewery — are working on an IPA called IRMA made with hops that spell out the name of the storm: Idaho 7, Rakau, Mosaic, and Amarillo. Proceeds from that beer will go to the food bank Feeding Florida.
Then there’s Texas, where Harvey ripped through just weeks before Irma hit Florida.
Revolver Brewing released a Harvey Relief Golden Ale on October 10. All profits go to charities, including the Rebuilding Texas Fund.
During the storm, 8th Wonder Brewery drove an army truck around Houston helping people. Budweiser and Oskar Blues canned water to send. Bars around Texas started a fundraiser called #ReliefBeers to raise money for the Houston Food Bank.
In Puerto Rico, where American citizens have received the least help from the federal government after Hurricane Maria, breweries on the mainland have been sending help. Dock Street Cannery in Philadelphia is trading beer for items to send to Puerto Rico. Stone Brewing’s Richmond, Virginia location is hosting a United for Puerto Rico event and donating a portion of the proceeds. Miami’s J. Wakefield Brewing and Lincoln’s Beard Brewing are collaborating to raise at least $10,000 for Direct Relief International. Oskar Blues partnered with Frontier Airlines to send planes full of water to to the island.
It’s unknown what will happen in Napa, where wildfires rage as I write this. But I am hopeful the nation’s breweries will continue to do what they can for those in need.
Fake beer is a $150,000 Hollywood industry
Judge me if you’d like, but whenever beer or other alcohol comes up in a TV show or movie, I immediately look for the label. Beer writer Zach Fowle apparently does so as well, but he turned his curiosity into this week’s most interesting beer story.
Fowle’s investigation in Draft magazine reveals that the fake beer market for TV and movies is somewhere around $150,000 a year. It’s almost entirely dominated by a company called Independent Studio Services (ISS), which is essentially the AB InBev of fake beer.
Per Marvin Mancia, the manager of a division of ISS, the way the company makes fake beer is to buy “O’Doul’s, strip the original label and put our label on it.” ISS sells each one for $15 a bottle or can to more than 100 TV shows and movies, each of which consumes between 50 and 100 of mislabeled O’Doul’s.
There you have it. Every time you see a character drinking Premium Light, Heisler, and a number of other beers, it’s actually O’Doul’s.
The reasoning for O’Doul’s is simple: Actors won’t get drunk on set, and actual beer (even the non-alcoholic kind) sounds and feels more natural on screen than any facsimile. It also gets out of the sticky situation of beer brands not wanting to sponsor a show because it puts the beer brand in questionable situations.
It’s a win-win-win: one for the producers, one for ISS, and one especially big win for O’Doul’s.
The Best Beers at the Great American Beer Festival
Last weekend I attended the GABF and it was a doozy. I flew into Denver with Samuel Adams, on a flight where Jim Koch personally introduced the label’s newest craft beer. I also tried a ridiculous number of sours over two days.
I’m not going to go through and list all of the winners (you can go here for that), but I will share three favorites that you might want to seek out.
Crooked Stave’s Nightmare on Brett: a bourbon barrel sour from one of the best barrel-aged breweries out there. It’s tart, with cherry flavors and light oaky notes.
Fate Brewing’s Pinot Noir Uror Gose: a barrel-aged beer that proves anything can be successfully barrel aged. It’s salty, herbaceous, and has a winey, oaky finish.
Wynkoop Brewing’s Cucular Proliferation: a cucumber sour with the strongest cucumber flavor I’ve ever tasted in a beer. I liked it so much I went to the brewery the next day and bought two pints of it (along with the brewery’s Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout).