When Sierra Nevada calls, you answer. When the Camp Fire erupted in Butte County, California, destroying homes and lives, the Chico, CA brewery put out a request for every brewery in the country to brew a beer and donate 100% of the proceeds to the Camp Fire Relief Fund, through the Golden Valley Bank Community Fund. The result: over 1,400 breweries around the world, including four in Eugene, have stepped up in unprecedented numbers.
Locally, Hop Valley, Ninkasi (with Yachats Brewing), Oakshire, and McMenamins High Street will be releasing their versions of the Sierra Nevada recipe. The beer is called Resilience Butte County Proud IPA. Sierra Nevada sent the recipe to all of the participating breweries; some stuck with it, and others chose to play a bit. It calls for a simple base of pale and crystal malts and Cascade and Centennial hops, fermented with the classic “Chico” yeast.
Sierra Nevada partnered with malt, hops, and yeast suppliers to arrange donated materials for other breweries, so they would not have to bear the entire financial load. Sierra Nevada also added $100,000 to the relief fund.
Dan Russo, head brewer at Oakshire, heard about the campaign from the brewery’s Public House manager. “My brother was down there fighting the fires, and [Oakshire owner] Jeff [Althouse] has done some bike races there, so it made sense all around.” Russo chose to play with the recipe a bit based on what the brewery had on hand, reducing the amount of crystal malts and adding a bit of oats, El Dorado and Lemondrop hops. He fermented with the London III yeast, which can contribute complimentary fruit flavors.
Like Sierra Nevada and many other participating breweries, Russo brewed Resilience on Giving Tuesday. The beer should be ready for the regular Tuesday beer release on December 18, only on draught. Though most of the 10-barrel yield will stay at the Public House, four kegs will go to Tap & Growler, Beergarden, Publichouse (Springfield), and The Bier Stein for benefit events. 100% of all the proceeds will be donated; Russo estimates about $10,000 in total from Oakshire. It will be the biggest single donation the brewery has ever made.
At McMenamins High Street, brewer Hanns Anderson, who grew up in Butte County, stuck with the recipe. “It’s nearly identical to Hammerhead,” he says. The only adjustments were to the parameters of the 6-barrel basement brewery. Anderson foresees a $7,500 donation from his brew. “The napkin math is almost $18 million,” he estimated of the worldwide proceeds (before all the participants were in). “It’s going to raise a lot of money.”
The McMenamins Resilience will be available at all three locations in Eugene mid-December, as well as in Corvallis and Roseburg. McMenamins Mill Creek, Washington brewery also participated. Look out for a release event at High Street.
It seems that many people in the Northwest are just one or two degrees removed from somebody who was affected by the fire. Ninkasi co-founder Jamie Floyd is one of those; his aunt’s extended family lost a house in Paradise. He heard about the fundraiser through the press release and email from Ken Grossman, founder of Sierra Nevada Brewing. Ninkasi will brew a collaboration at Yachats Brewing for release later this month.
“We have talked about doing a collab for a long time and it seemed like the perfect time to do it,” said Floyd. They will tweak the recipe, but keep the same stats as the original to get 6.7% abv and 70 IBU. The base will be of Mecca Grade’s Pelton, a pilsner-type malt, with some wheat malt and a small dose of light crystal malt. They will use Chinook, Mosaic, and Mt. Hood hops, and ferment with Barbarian yeast from Imperial Yeast in Portland for the 7-barrel brew.
The Ninkasi/Yachats collaboration will be available only at the respective breweries’ tasting rooms. No release date is set, but Floyd anticipates it before the end of 2018.
Hop Valley R&D brewer Patrick Whiting will also brew up a batch of Resilience Butte County Proud. He stuck close to the recipe, just reducing the amount of crystal malt so as not to end up with an amber colored beer. That beer should also be available by the end of the year.
Although there are many issues and events that deserve the solidarity of community achieved by this response, it is proof enough that it is possible, and the money raised will make a real impact on those who lost their homes and family members. It is also a testament to the longstanding goodwill of Sierra Nevada Brewing and Ken Grossman. The brewery was the inspiration for many others to open their own, and it is a model of sustainable business practices in many ways. That they’ve used their karma for the benefit of the community at large is heartwarming and encouraging. Cheers to Sierra Nevada, and to all the breweries who answered the call. I look forward to tasting the beers!