Charity, Compassion, and The Love of Beer
By Timothy Long
“God made beer because he loves us and wants us to be happy.”
The above quote is often attributed to Benjamin Franklin. However, there is no proof that he ever said it. But we love believing that he did. Beer has been associated with health and happiness since ancient times. Oddly, none of the early cultures that brewed beer recorded much about the process. There are not many writings from them about their beer. Probably because, like bread, it was so much a part of everyday life that they didn’t give it much thought. They knew it made them happy. They also considered it nutritious and healthy. The health association stems from the fact that they could drink beer without becoming sick. Something one couldn’t say about water back then. It took mankind thousands of years to discover that it was the brewing process that made beer safe to drink. When brewing beer, the boiling kills any pathogens. To us, it’s just science. To them, it was magic. To this day, people will still raise a pint to someone’s health.
Beer also found its way into ancient religions. One example, according to an article in Wine Enthusiast entitled “Beer Is What Makes Us Human, How Beer Influenced Humanity Worldwide”:
“To the Sumerians, beer was considered a gift from the gods meant to promote “human well-being and happiness,” according to a 2019 research paper, The Beverage of the Ages. Four Sumerian deities were closely associated with beer, like the goddess of beer Ninaski.”
Since beer has always been associated with health, and found its way into religion, it makes sense that beer became associated with charity as well. Beer is a huge part of celebrating in our culture. Fun and happiness are associated with it. Most charity fundraising events are celebrations of some type. Beer is a great way to get people to attend.
For example, I am the president of a local charity in Alexandria, VA, The Santa Claus Yacht Club (SCYC). It’s not a real yacht club, no boats. It’s comprised of a small group of local professionals who raise funds for feeding needy children and families in our community. And when we have fundraisers, and almost always include beer. Partnering with breweries is easy. They love being part of charitable activities. It’s engrained in the culture of their industry and makes for good public relations. The SCYC’s next fundraiser is being held at a great local BBQ restaurant here in Alexandria, Sweet Fire Donna’s, on Saturday, April 9th at 4PM. We are having a Tap Takeover, an event where a brewery comes in and takes over all the taps for an afternoon. The SCYC gets $1 for ever beer sold. We also raise funds through a raffle. The Raffle prize is usually provided by the brewery, tying them into the charity and event even further. The sponsor for this Tap Takeover is Right Proper Brewery located in Washington, D.C. When they were suggested as the sponsor, I jumped on the idea. I used to live in DC not far from their Shaw location. I am a big fan of their beers. I set up a time to interview them and do a beer tasting.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Lily Schulz, Lead Brewer at Right Proper’s Shaw location. To say that Lily was charming and intelligent would be an understatement. And, of course, she has a thorough knowledge of beer. Lily bubbles with that typical brewer’s personality that is best described as a combination of both the jovial and the joyful. Her love of brewing is palpable.
The first beer we taste is the Shawbecker, a Schwarzbier, a dark malty German Lager with hints of nut and chocolate, and a clean dry finish. The next beer, their Haxan Porter, which anyone who read my last article would argue is a stout, was equally wonderful. And by the way, if they say it’s a porter, it’s a porter. The Senate Lager was next, a delicious corn lager that is a recreation of a Chr. Heurich Brewing Company beer that was popularized back in the 1890’s. We then tasted one of Lily’s personal creations, The Cheap Bouquet. It’s a sour. I’m not the biggest fan of sours, but I found it delightful. The beer’s head looks like a marshmallow, with an earthy and bitter, yet very smooth, taste. Then came a Black IPA called Hopportunity. Fig and oat hit you first, then espresso and tobacco on the back taste. It’s a fantastic beer. This beer was brewed especially for Black History Month. It’s a compassionate toast to part of our community, another charitable act.
Earlier on during the interview, Lily was diligently brewing a new IPA. As she was explaining where she was in the brewing process, she began to talk about the Pink Boot Society. She excitedly explained that the IPA is for International Woman’s Day, and that many other female brewers around the country who were also part of the society were participating. The IPA is called a Kviek IPA made with Arsett yeast. The hop blend is a comprised of four or five hops that are determined by the Pink Boot Society. This guarantees some similarity in taste for all the Pink Boot Society beers brewed for International Woman’s Day. She got more excited and spoke faster. Her excitement was contagious. I had to stop her and ask her to tell me about the Pink Boot Society. I am not familiar with them. I later found their website. The best way to describe them comes from there:
We are the movers and shakers in the fermented and alcoholic beverage industry. We make fermented beverages with the highest possible quality. We are the women and/or non-binary individuals that own the companies, package the product, design the labels, serve the drinks, write about our industry – and just about everything in between. Most importantly, we teach each other what we know through our own seminar programs, and we help each other advance both front-of-the-house and back-of-the-house careers by raising money for educational scholarships.
They are a nonprofit society of brewers who help and support others in the industry. Once again, proof of the compassion and charity that is part of the industry. Where you find beer, you often find charity, and vice versa. Craft beer doesn’t just taste good, it strengthens our community through charitable giving. When we are imbibing and enjoying, we often take this connection with charity for granted. We should take note of it. We should be thankful for the compassion that is such a big part of the industry. Clearly our brewers love us and want us to be happy.
About the Author: Timothy Long is an educator, writer, consultant, and experienced restaurant operator. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Instagram and Twitter: @wvutimmy. Blog: What is that fly doing in my soup? http://whatflyinmysoup.com
Tim’s Whiskey and Cigar Recommendations: Since this month’s article dealt with charity, it is with charity and compassion in my heart that I will give you my whiskey and cigar recommendations for April. Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon is a great spring whiskey. It’s very easy on the palate. The flavors are gentle with oak and citrus on the nose. The palate detects caramel, fruit, cherries, and rye, none of which jump out quickly. The mouthfeel is light and creamy. It averages $30 per bottle and is 90 proof. So, it doesn’t hurt the mouth or the wallet. A good April cigar is the Nub Connecticut. At 4 inches and a gauge of 60, this cigar looks like you already smoked half of it before you start. It’s what I love about Nubs, small, fun, and tasty. Cedar, brioche, cinnamon, and a touch of leather make this mild to medium smoke a springtime delight.