Capital Region breweries team up with nonprofits to raise money and make beer

Breweries and nonprofits across the Capital Region have teamed up to build community engagement and raise money for a cause. Although not a new trend, there have been recent causes that have prompted people to raise glasses of specialty drinks.

Some of these brews are created for a celebration. Russell Sage College’s Opalka Gallery recently collaborated with Albany-based Nine Pin Ciderworks and Troy’s Rare Form Brewing Company to blend ‘Collab Button Brew’ – a blended version of Rare Form’s ‘Members Only’ dark ale with Nine Pin cider, aged with cranberries and cinnamon – for the 20th anniversary of the gallery, which will champion a collaborative community spirit.

Nine Pin created three blends for a tasting party, and the collaboration partners voted for the winning flavor profile. Judie Gilmore, director of special projects at the gallery, said. The drink’s labels featured artwork from various Opalka exhibits over the past few years.

The Collab Button Brew was first available at the gallery’s anniversary party, held on October 21. Rare Form and Nine Pin will be hosting promotional parties in each of their tasting rooms – 5:30-7 p.m., Thursday, November 10 and Thursday, November 10. December 8, respectively – to sell the beers and donate part of the profits to the gallery.

Some breweries in the Capital Region do collaborations like these several times a year. In 2020, beer makers nationwide brewed a Black is Beautiful stout, with the goal that proceeds from the beer will go to organizations that support black communities. Rare Form was part of several local breweries, which also included Shmaltz Brewing Company, Bound By Fate Brewing Company and Indian Ladder Farms Cidery and Brewery, which collaborated on this recipe.

Unified Beerworks in Malta teamed up in late 2021 with a list of other breweries and Wellspring, which helps survivors of domestic and sexual abuse, to create ‘Brave Noise’, a specialty beer designed to benefit the organization .

The idea originated from an Instagram post, said Erika Andersen, co-owner and head brewer at Unified Beerworks.

In 2021, fellow brewer, Brienne Allan of Notch Brewing in Salem, Massachusetts, penned the post asking other women how often they experience harassment or microaggressions in the brewing industry.

“And it just opened up this huge box of worms and there were a lot of breweries and beer brewery owners who were called out for really bad behavior towards women in the industry,” she said. .

Breweries have come together to take action. The post’s author created a set of rules to accompany a special etiquette for breweries who wanted to help. According to the rules, participating breweries would have to create a code of conduct on how they respond to instances of harassment or abuse, and post it on their website in order to gain access to the label.

Unified Beerworks, alongside Indian Ladder Farms and Bound by Fate, participated in the collaboration, taking things a step further. Andersen and his team designed their code online and worked with Wellspring to formulate a recipe, package the finished product, and sell it via fundraising.

Wellspring helped publicize the partnership, and Unified Beerworks donated all proceeds from the sale of the beer to the organization for women fighting abuse. The fundraiser was a success and the two are planning another event for the end of the year, Andersen said.

“Experiencing things like domestic violence, sexual harassment or racism and things of that nature, I think it’s important to get that message across. And it’s very important to let these people know that they have a safe place to go and that their voice is heard. We want to support them in any way we can,” she said.

“The best part of it is being an active member of the community and doing more than just being in business to make a profit and I think a lot of small businesses can say they’re part of their community,” said she added.

Paul Leone, executive director of the New York State Brewers Association, said partnerships like those described are common

But these collaborations have become a problem lately. He said the State Liquor Authority is cracking down on these partnerships. The association is in the process of discussing it with the authority. Leone could not comment further on the situation.

The agency is seeking to clarify in what capacity these collaborations are taking place and to ensure that they comply with the laws, said William Crowley, spokesman for the agency. The agency is developing an advisory board to provide clearer guidance on these relationships. “These guidelines will be presented to Authority members for consideration at a public meeting of the full Council,” Crowley said.

“It’s just something they do, always have done and will continue to do. It’s done at the national level and it’s also done at the local level,” Leone said.

Wolf Hollow Brewing Company in Schenectady is currently working on one as well. The brewery has partnered with a local branch of St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital to release a limited-edition beer for fundraising.

The brewery blended a white stout for the event with the help of the St. Jude team during their visit to the brewing site. Jordan White, director of brewing operations for the company, said the stout is being packaged and will soon be released at a party. A portion of sales will be donated to St. Jude’s.

CH Evans Brewing Company at the Albany Pumping Station continues its tradition of brewing a beer for Ales for ALS, with proceeds from sales of the drink donated to research for the cause. This year they paid tribute to a friend of the brewery and home brewer, Bruce Franconi, who died last year of complications from ALS. The stout was developed for the brewery through one of Franconi’s recipes and dubbed the Franconi Imperial Stout. The brewery hosted a launch party for the brew in August.

Not only do these collaborations allow companies to help the community, but they also give brewers the opportunity to experiment with recipes. This stout recipe was a unique blend that Wolf Hollow hadn’t really worked with before. Typically, stouts are dark in color, but this version was light – a new flavor profile for customers.

“It’s really about that next level of community building and then supporting the community around us and really trying to make our little corner of the world a better place,” White said.

Luz W. German