Next time friends poke fun at your beer gut, tell them you're growing it for a good cause. If you drink the beers on this list, you won't be lying! From Hawaii to Maine, breweries all over the country are making charitable giving part of their missions. For some brewers, it's as simple as donating a dollar per six-pack to a particular organization or hosting an annual benefit event; others actually found their businesses for the sole purpose of raising money for causes they believe in. They pay their operating costs and the rest goes to charity.
And what better delivery vehicle for good vibes and tangible support than ice cold beer? Whether donations total in the thousands or millions, beer for charity sure does go down smooth... Check out these breweries that are making the world a better place one pint at a time.
16 Save the World Brewing Company – Marble Falls, TX
Save the World Brewing wasn't worried about choosing a subtle name. They let everyone know what they're up to! On their website, the Texas brewery says, "We are America’s first 100% philanthropic production craft brewery. After years of perfecting our recipes and using only the finest grains, hops and yeast, we feel we have crafted some delicious ales for you, but grab a bottle and decide for yourself, knowing that you’re helping to Save The World one beer at a time!" A religious motivation is clear; their beers have Latin names that translate to Biblical references, such as Lux Mundi (The Light of the World) and Princeps Pacis (Prince of Peace). Since Jesus turned water into wine, he'd have no problem with selling beer for charity, right? So far, they've donated $35,000 to causes including Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity, and disaster relief organizations.
15 Dog Tag Brewing – Bozeman, MT
This Montana brewery's mission is a somber one – on each can, they feature a picture of an American serviceperson who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq or Afghanistan. Each picture goes with a page on their website that tells more of that person's story, such as this page about Staff Sergeant Christopher M. Falkel. The family of the fallen soldier gets to pick a charity that sales will benefit, usually ones that provide some sort of service to veterans or remembrance for the deceased. For instance, the Falkel family chose to support "Michael Reagan's Fallen Heroes Project. [...] Their mission is to honor American Fallen Heroes for their ultimate sacrifice during the war against terrorism. The foundation provides the resources to produce and distribute to each family a hand-drawn portrait of their Fallen Hero, created by artist Michael G. Reagan, free of charge." Another family, of Sgt. Mark Vecchione, hosts an annual vets fishing trip through Dog Tag and Cape Cod Cares for the Troops.
14 New Belgium – Fort Collins, CO
This Colorado brewery has made philanthropy a major part of its mission since 1995, donating one dollar per barrel to non-profit organizations. According to their website, "New Belgium Brewing has donated more than $8 million through our grant programs and in 2015 co-workers donated over 2773 hours of volunteer time to their community." That's putting your money where your beer goes! In particular, New Belgium supports youth environmental education, sustainable agriculture, clean energy, bicycle advocacy (look at their logo!), and water conservation/restoration. One of their favorite organizations is The Wetlands Initiative, which works to restore natural wetlands in the Midwest. Water is a pet cause for New Belgium because, after all, "beer is a water-based agricultural product. Its three main ingredients are water, barley, and hops, and we are acutely aware that we need healthy, flowing rivers and thriving farmland in order to keep making this sweet, sweet nectar."
13 Stone Brewing – San Diego, CA
"Challenging convention since 1996," this California brewery is a favorite among craft beer enthusiasts. But many Stone drinkers probably don't know that while they're enjoying a Mocha Double IPA, they're also helping many charitable causes. The company has donated over $3 million since its inception, half of that through yearly special events. At their 2015 19th Anniversary Celebration, they raised $250,000 for The Surfrider Foundation, Boys & Girls Club of San Marcos, Fight ALD!, and the Palomar Family YMCA. This is amazing growth since 1998's 2nd Anniversary Celebration, where they raised $5,000 for The Surfrider Foundation. 2016 is Stone's 20th anniversary, so we can only imagine this year's party will be bigger – and raise more moolah – than ever.
12 Maui Brewing Co – Kihei, HI
Perhaps the most scenic brewery in this article, Maui Brewing Co made the list because they were the only Hawaii brewery to participate in Ales for ALS. This program, put together by Loftus Ranches and Hopunion, "offer(s) participating brewers access to a proprietary hop blend, free of charge" in exchange for a dollar donation per six-pack of their Ale for ALS beer. Maui Brewing Co made a session IPA for the cause, which was released in late July. The Hawaii brewery also donates to animal care organizations, environmental education programs, and organizations that help children and the elderly. 'Ohana means family, and Maui Brewing Co is doing their part to make the world a better place for their extended "family."
11 Two22 Brew – Denver, CO
Two22 is one of those breweries that was founded with giving as part of its mission. According to their website, Two22 donates $2.22 out of every $10 of profit to Colorado charities. They say, "Our mission is to provide beer-lovers with a way to give charitably to local causes through the beer they drink. We want the community to feel like they are a part of what we are doing, that they are more than just customers." Since 2013, Two22 has given to organizations such as the Adaptive Sports Association, the Boys & Girls Club of Colorado, the Aspen Center for Educational Studies, and Colorado Youth for a Change. The amount of their grants range from $1,000 to $10,000.
10 Finnegans – Minneapolis, MN
Finnegans (no apostrophe!) is another brewery that has incorporated giving from Day One. The Minneapolis venture focuses its efforts on organizations that stock food pantries with food from local farmers -- so in other words, they support sustainable local agriculture in order to feed the hungry. AllAboutBeer.com wrote, " Over the last four years, Finnegans has donated about $50,000 annually to Minnesota’s The Food Group, one of several partner nonprofits for the brewery. Each dollar helps The Food Group buy one pound of food from Minnesota farmers, with Finnegans' donation representing 40 percent of 2015’s total pounds of food." Their "reverse food truck" is also very popular in the greater Minneapolis area -- check out the video above!
But what about the beer? Their selections have a theme that goes with their Irish namesake, like the Dead Irish Poet stout. The chocolaty 7% ABV brew is said to pair well with "Irish blue cheese, beef wellington, chocolate cake, and gallows humor."
9 Two Roads Brewing – Stratford, CT
It seems like a lot of breweries have a vested interest in nature, and this popular Connecticut beer-maker is one of them. Two Roads' annual Shore to the Pour Beach Run raises money for the Connecticut Audubon Society at Stratford Point, a 40-acre nature preserve that's known as "one of the best birding destinations in the state." Additionally, they support local artists by sponsoring an annual ConnArtists contest with a $1,000 grand prize given to whoever best depicts a "road less travelled."
All this wouldn't be possible without mouth-watering beer. Two Roads is known for having great seasonal offerings like Roadsmary's Baby Barrel-Aged Pumpkin Ale and the Via Cordis Abbey Blonde Ale. Their regular selections include Road 2 Ruin Double IPA, Old Factor Pils, and Honeyspot Road IPA (named after an actual road in Stratford).
8 Allagash Brewing Company – Portland, ME
This amazing Maine brewery, home to Allagash White, Black, the intriguing Curieux, and more, says, "We love living and working in Maine, and we love to give back to groups and organizations in our home state that make a positive impact in our greater neighborhood." Their Tribute Beer Series donates a dollar per bottle and a quarter per pour to local organizations; twice a year, they also award a grant to a community organization. And as if that wasn't enough, Allagash retail store donates ALL of their tips to charity -- according to their site, "a different member of the team elects a new charity each month." Wow!
But Allagash doesn't just give back to charity, they also give back to their customers. Tastings at the Allagash brewery are free. You read that right, free. The brewery will give you four 3-oz. samples just for visiting. If you want more, you need to buy it and take it off the premises -- but hey, a free 12 oz. of delicious beer is giving we can get behind!
7 Appalachian Mountain Brewery – Boone, NC
Appalachian Mountain Brewery supports the We Can So You Can Foundation, which funds endeavors in education, agriculture, and sustainability. Specifically, their proceeds have gone to 29 organizations, such as Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture, Purple Heart Homes, and the Watauga Humane Society. AMB has donated over $86,000 since 2013!
If you check out their Facebook page, AMB is really into ropes courses and local music. Apparently, they are also a "cidery" – didn't realize that was a thing. BeerAdvocate.com says they currently brew 53 beverages, none of which is a cider. Maybe they're waiting until the fall? But either way, if you find yourself in the mountains of North Carolina, make sure to stop by AMB and have a few drinks! You'll know that your money and inebriation are going to good causes.
6 Kent Falls Brewing Company – Kent, CT
This young brewery, nestled in scenic Northwestern Connecticut, is all about sustainability. They operate on a farm that was owned by the same family for over 200 years, using a solar hot water system and feeding their spent grain to the resident sheep and chickens. In an effort to be ever more environmentally friendly, Kent Falls is also working on electricity and wastewater handling solutions. You'd think that with all these sustainable chickens and beers going on, there wouldn't be much left over to give away. But Kent Falls has participated in Ales for ALS two years in a row, and were actually the second Connecticut brewery to do so (the first was Willibrew in Willimantic). In 2015, Kent Falls raised around $2,000 for the cause; this year, they expect to triple that.
5 Gun Hill Brewing Company – Bronx, NY
Gun Hill Brewing's setting is the opposite of pastoral Kent Falls: 'da Bronx. They take their name from the location of an important Revolutionary War battle that happened close to their brewery, and their beers have Revolution-inspired titles like Original Punks and Red Hessian. And in Revolutionary fashion, they have brewed Rise Up Rye to benefit "Graham Windham, a nonprofit that was started by Alexander Hamilton's wife in 1806 and continues to help New York City children today." How perfect is that?? The 4.8% ABV saison is described as having "(a) soft fruity aroma with notes of clove and stone fruit flavors such as peach and apricot." What a tasty way to help New York kids find permanent, loving living situations.
4 Harpoon – Boston, MA
This Massachusetts brewery was born in 1986 and always tried to be a "good neighbor." In 2003, they made it official by founding Harpoon Helps, "to support local charities throughout New England with donations of fresh Harpoon beer and volunteer hours, and by raising thousands of dollars through Harpoon events to aid their efforts." Since they started keeping track, Harpoon has donated 261,000 beers and nearly 40,000 volunteer hours. And in commonality with many fellow brewers, one of their favorite causes is ALS research. Harpoon's annual road race has raised over $1 million for the Angel Fund, an ALS charity, over the past fourteen years. Also like some of their fellow brewers, Harpoon uses environmentally friendly practices and even won the Boston Green Business Award in 2012.
3 Lagunitas – Petaluma, CA
This California brewery is famous for its Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale, but beer enthusiasts may not know that Lagunitas gives a little sumpin' sumpin' back to the community. On August 1st, they opened their first Non-Profit Community Room in Portland, Oregon. What exactly is a community room? Lagunitas explains that, "the beer and the space will be completely donated to any bona fide Non-Profit organization so that they can focus on raising the funds they need to carry out their respective missions. A Lagunitas team will be on-hand to ensure turnkey execution of the event and, most importantly, that all of their guests have a great time!" In January 2017, the brewery will open a second community room in San Diego.
2 Abita – Covington, LA
Louisiana has been hit by several disasters in the past decade, both man-made and natural. Through it all, Abita has been there to help their neighbors. After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit, the brewery crafted their Restoration Pale Ale and donated one dollar per six-pack to the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation. Eventually, they raised $550,000 -- not too shabby. And in 2010 when the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, destroying critical wetland habitats and damaging the fishing industry, Abita brewed the SOS Pilsner to help. To date, they have raised over half a million dollars to " assist with the rescue and restoration of the environment, industry, and individuals fighting to survive the disastrous oil spill." Bottoms up!
1 Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery – Goochland, VA
This brewery is #1 on our list for having the best name. Being located in a place called "Goochland" is also pretty hilarious. But Lickinghole's philanthropy is no laughing matter: the brewery donates $1 per bottle and $10 per barrel to a different non-profit every month. Some organizations they've helped include Massey Cancer Center and the Goochland Historical Society. They offer creative brews such as Chai Tea Virginia Black Bear, a 9.3% ABV imperial stout that really has chai tea in it, and Heir Apparent, an imperial stout with Mexican peppers in it. Most recently, they've released the Citra Fresh India Pale Ale. Yum!
Thank you to Poet in the Pantry, OmNomCT, and Johnny Pluckman for helping to fill out the list!
Additional sources: pastemagazine.com, nytimes.com, brewersassociation.org, steadyserv.com, valuesandcapitalism.com, menshealth.com, allaboutbeer.com, abc7ny.com, harpoonbrewery.com.
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