These Craft Beers Benefit the Service Industry and Frontline Workers

Put back a few while giving back.

craft beer coronavirus
Emily Carpenter/Thrillist
Emily Carpenter/Thrillist

One of the many takeaways during the coronavirus pandemic is that we’re all getting back to our roots during “these uncertain times” -- doubling down on what makes us who we are. For craft brewers around the country, pinpointing that passion is easy. They just want to brew beer.

Even though economic times are incredibly hard and taproom money isn’t flowing like it used to, breweries are finding unique ways to give back: directly donating to food banks, giving distilleries unused beer to produce hand sanitizer, starting relief funds to donate to restaurant and bar workers, and, yes, brewing beers that give back to the community.

“It’s a tough decision for a lot of breweries to do this since we’re all taking a hit, but so many are excited to jump on and help other businesses who aren’t as fortunate,” says Andrew Burman, co-founder of Brooklyn’s Other Half Brewing, which launched the global initiative All Together that now has more than 700 participating breweries. “Customers always get excited about craft beer -- you have to if you’re paying $20 for a four-pack -- but these kinds of releases have people caring way, way more.”

Here are some of the craft beers you can pick up curbside or get delivered to your doorstep, all while raising money for the service industry, healthcare workers, and other communities in need.

The owners at Other Half Brewing had a brilliant idea to band together with other breweries around the country for an epic collaboration. Dubbed All Together and co-hosted by Stout Collective and Craftpeak, the initiative involves more than 700 craft breweries with proceeds going to local community groups. The brewery is about to release its third version of the original four-hop, 6.5% ABV IPA, which will be available for curbside pickup and delivery with 100 percent of proceeds benefiting the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation. Check out other variations at Burial in Asheville, Urban Roots in Sacramento, Voodoo in Lancaster, The Veil in Richmond, and Source in Colts Neck, New Jersey -- just to name a few.

In another all-hands-on-deck collaboration, craft breweries in the Connecticut Brewers Guild banded together to create the Guild Pils. This easy-drinking, dry-hopped pilsner was brewed at Alvarium Beer in conjunction with Black Pond Brews, Epicure Brewing, Hop Culture Farms, and many others in the state and a portion of the proceeds benefits the Connecticut Hospitality Employee Relief Fund. We especially love the Polaroid collage on the cans showcasing all the hard working service industry members in the state.

We partially have Bill Withers to thank for this rainbow-lettered Double IPA from Baltimore’s Union Craft Brewing -- which was released alongside a video that features lip-synching bar and restaurant workers. This bold, 8.5% ABV beer gives off notes of pineapple and mango with a subtly bitter and dry finish and is available for curbside pickup at the brewery. The entirety of its proceeds are benefiting the Baltimore Restaurant Relief Fund, which supports hospitality workers. In addition, local musician Cris Jacobs will play a live-streamed tribute to Withers on Union’s Facebook page on May 22 at 8pm.

The Chicago-based Goose Island brewery released this hoppy blonde ale to benefit local healthcare workings during the coronavirus pandemic. This light-bodied beer was made to be “reminiscent of a Chicago summer and the better times ahead.” Available for pickup and delivery within a certain zone, Sunshine Tomorrow was released alongside a video of the brewers personally thanking frontline workers. Profits from the beer will go to the #ChicagoCOVIDFund, launched by United Way of Metro Chicago and The Chicago Community Trust, which are working to provide health and human services to city residents.

Yet again in another collaborative release, the craft beer mecca of Asheville united to release Stay Home/Stay Asheville IPA. Participating breweries include Archetype, Bhramari, DSSOLVR, New Belgium, and Twin Leaf -- and ingredients were donated by Riverbend Malt House and White Labs Yeast. The result is a burst of tropical fruit and ripe melon with some danky pine and lightly roasted notes. Featuring the famous grain silo in the River Arts District on its label, the beer is available in four-packs of 16-ounce cans at Bhramari and Archetype’s West Asheville location and benefits New Belgium's Bar and Restaurant Relief Fund -- which has already raised more than $230,000 for food and beverage communities in Asheville and Fort Collins, Colorado.

In a city hit especially hard by the coronavirus pandemic, Seattle-based Reuben’s Brews released You Are Not Alone. The 8.5% hazy IPA is available for pickup and delivery in Washington State and features spelt, a grain that adds extra creaminess and velvety mouthfeel to hop-forward beers. Owners Adam and Grace Robbings explained that, while their business has certainly lost revenue, they felt an obligation to still produce beer and give back to bars and restaurants that have had to close completely. Therefore, 100% of the profits are going to Big Table, which is supporting those in the industry who have lost their jobs. Additionally, the brewery has recruited 10 other breweries -- including Bale Breaker and Urban Family -- to brew their own versions with the same label and donate to causes in their area. 

Located in UGA country, Akademia Brewing in Athens recently released Good Love, a 4.8% ABV Berliner Weiss packed with fruit. Available for curbside pickup, the sour beer contains tons of notes of peach (because, Georgia), fig, and pomegranate. Purchases of Good Love help fund Bottleshare, a nonprofit organization that grants funding to members of the craft beverage industry and their families when faced with life-altering hardships.

Not only did AleSmith Brewing in San Diego create a philanthropic beer, it also started a nonprofit. Anvil of Hope raises money for low-income families, those who are facing homelessness, and others going through hardships. The brewery’s latest release will specifically benefit frontline workers through the sales of its Hope Hazy IPA -- a light and smooth combination of pineapple, citrus, and tropical fruits -- available in July.

To coincide with Melanoma Awareness Month, Virginia-based Devils Backbone Brewing recently launched Loved By The Sun. The peach-mango beer that comes in sun-activated, color-changing cans encourages beer lovers to safely relish in the outdoors this summer -- both from a social distancing perspective and from a health perspective. The brewery teamed up with the Melanoma Research Foundation and is donating $1 for every mile walked during the MRF’s Miles for Melanoma virtual race (up to the organization’s goal of 3,000 miles). Devils Backbone is also offering rebates for $3 off sunscreen and providing skin check guides to help consumers take ownership of their health.

In another amorous release, $1 for every case equivalent of Karbach Brewing’s Love Street purchased at to-go bars and restaurants across Texas is being donated to the Southern Smoke Foundation, a charity founded by renowned Houston chef Chris Shepherd to raise funds for the food and beverage community. And later this year, Karbach is releasing a new pilsner, brewed in collaboration with Shepherd and famous pitmaster Aaron Franklin, with a portion of the proceeds from this new brew benefiting Southern Smoke. Karbach is hopeful that through this initiative, they’ll be able to raise upward of $100,000 for the foundation.

The Colorado Brewers Guild and the Left Hand Brewing Foundation started the Colorado Strong Fund to raise funds for healthcare, hospitality, service industry, and gig economy members across the state. Its benefit beer, the Colorado Strong Pale Ale, is made entirely out of local ingredients and produced by Colorado breweries and 20% of its sales will go to the fund. Left Hand Brewing is providing malts and hops to all the breweries free of charge.

This New York-based brewery is looking towards the light at the end of the tunnel with this clean lager that uses Hudson Valley ingredients. Part of the brewery’s Landscape Lager Series, this helles bock gives off notes of fresh bread and mint, aiming to represent small signs of rebirth. Beers can be picked up at the Garnerville location and, most importantly, 100% of the profits will be donated to the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation. to help aid hospitality workers.

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Thrillist senior writer Dustin Nelson and senior editor Andy Kryza contributed reporting to this story.

Jess Mayhugh is a cities editor for Thrillist, who is constantly amazed by the tireless efforts of the service industry. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @jessmayhugh.