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Beer to the Rescue Brings San Diego Brewers Together for a Cause

But it's not the only way local breweries are giving back


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This year, more than 40 San Diego breweries will support Beer To The Rescue.

Drinking beer to make the world a better place? I’m up for that! And, thankfully, lots of San Diego breweries are up for that as well.

Brewers are, by nature, are a community-minded bunch. The very essence of what they do—making beer—is a community-enriching pursuit. People come together over beers. Discussions are had and friendships are made. Brewers also like to use their powers for good, especially when it comes to supporting causes and charities they believe in. Some of our larger breweries have been supporting worthwhile organizations for many years, and their support enables beer fans and followers to use their power as consumers to help those causes as well.

In recent years, one of the largest coordinated efforts to help a specific cause has been Beer to the Rescue, which brings greater awareness to—and supports the work of—the Lupus Foundation of Southern California. Started in 2015 by Brandon Hernández, a longtime San Diego beer writer and brewing industry professional, Beer to the Rescue organizes the brewing community around a series of events held all over the county during May, which is Lupus Awareness Month.

This year, more than 40 breweries are participating in the month-long program. Many breweries have created special brews specifically for Beer to the Rescue, and others are hosting fundraisers and parties in support of the cause. During the past two years, Beer to the Rescue raised more than $70,000 for the Lupus Foundation of Southern California, and this year promises to be its biggest year yet.

There are dozens and dozens of special BTTR events on the calendar this month, including Charity Tuesdays at Societe Brewing, and special beer releases at O’Brien’s Pub, Division 23, Mission Brewery, and many more. In fact, there are so many events on the books, that there is at least one scheduled for every night of May. A closing ceremony will be held in San Marcos at Rip Current Brewing on Wednesday, May 31, from 3–10 p.m.

Coronado's CoastWise Session IPA raises money for Surfrider Foundation.

Beer to the Rescue may be the largest coordinated series of charity events in the beer community, but a number of breweries also choose to bake their charitable work directly into their year-round schedules. AleSmith, for example, supports the Tony & Alicia Gwynn Foundation (TAG) through sales of .394 Pale Ale, one of the brewery’s core offerings. The beer, which was originally developed in collaboration with Tony Gwynn himself, now helps to assist underprivileged youth and the homeless in San Diego by giving a percentage of its proceeds to TAG. Recently, AleSmith also released Mokasida Speedway Stout, which highlights an Ethiopian coffee blend and is brewed in support of the Lost Boys & Girls of Sudan, a number of whom have been hired by the brewery since 2015.

In March, Coronado Brewing Company announced the release of a new core beer—CoastWise Session IPA—that was developed in partnership with Surfrider Foundation. A portion of the proceeds from this new brew will go to support Surfrider Foundation’s mission to protect our oceans, waves, and beaches. In addition to supporting the foundation through sales, Coronado has also organized a series of beach cleanups and is actively working to spread the word about all the good work Surfrider does across the nation.

At Green Flash, each year brings a new beer in their Treasure Chest series, which is brewed annually to support breast cancer charities in San Diego, Virginia Beach, and across America. This program came about at the urging of co-founder Lisa Hinkley, who is a breast cancer survivor and who felt a strong desire to support efforts in this area. Each Treasure Chest beer is different; the 2017 selection will be an IPA with passion fruit and will be available nationwide in the fall on draft only.

Many other breweries develop and release specific beers over the year to help with specific causes. Karl Strauss and Amplified Ale Works have created the Pathway Ale series as part of an ongoing collaboration to help raise money for a local community project called PB Pathways. The focus of that program is to work toward improving safety and access for pedestrians, bicyclists, and skaters in the PB area. Various beers are included in the Pathway project, the most recent of which is a Milk Stout.

Every year Green Flash brews a Treasure Chest beer to support breast cancer charities.

Pink Boots Presidio Porter is Karl Strauss’s 2017 creation from the annual “Big Boots Brew Day,” which is organized by the Pink Boots Society. Dozens of San Diego breweries regularly participate in the annual brewing ritual for this group, which works to raise the profiles of, and further the careers of, women in the brewing industry.

The largest brewery in town, Stone Brewing Co., has also often put its considerable resources behind worthwhile causes and charities. The list of Stone’s charity-related beers is too extensive to list in its entirety here, but recent releases have included Sawyer’s Triple, which benefited Fight ALD; Nargoyle, which was brewed to support the National Marine Mammal Foundation; Homefront IPA, which benefited Soldiers Angels Homefront; and Adopt a Bastard/Bastard Hits the Road, which was a series of collaboration brews to benefit Foster Care to Success and other charities.

Of course it goes without saying that you don’t need to wait until your favorite breweries get behind a cause before you do something charitable or get involved in your community. And, of course, you don’t need to feel as if every beer you drink should be supporting something altruistic and high-minded. But isn’t it nice when a brewery makes all those things comes together for you and—in the simple act of enjoying their efforts—you can also help in some small way to do some good? Now, that’s beer you can believe in.

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