Food & Drink

Beer column: Local beer makers brew up a fundraiser with Sierra Nevada for fire victims

You should go buy Resilience.

You won’t get that kind of advice very often in this space, but this isn’t actually about beer. It’s about Paradise and the deadly wildfire that killed dozens of Californians.

Sierra Nevada, the largest craft brewery in California, has a plan to raise millions of dollars for victims of the fire with its new Resilience IPA. Last week, Sierra Nevada owner Ken Grossman asked every brewery in the country to brew their own batches of Resilience. Even better, Sierra Nevada secured donations of hops and grain, so every penny of every four-pack, six-pack, crowler, growler and draft sale can go to fire victims.

Sierra Nevada got the idea from Russian River, the famed Santa Rosa brewery that came up with a similar plan after last year’s deadly fire in that town.

Dozens of Sacramento-area breweries have signed on to Sierra Nevada’s effort, from places with a couple of employees and small brewhouses to leading producers like Track Seven.

“As soon as I got the email, I told the sales director to get us signed up,” said Track Seven co-founder Ryan Graham. “I feel like that’s the general consensus from everybody. I don’t think anyone else could have done it as effectively as Sierra Nevada, getting everyone together and using their collective influence to get some of the donations to make this possible and impactful. I’m happy to be a part of it.”

He’s far from alone.

While Track Seven will pump out about 450 gallons of Resilience with relative ease, the co-founders at Elk Grove’s Tilted Mash will be working overtime for their contribution.

Co-founder Jonathan Martinez said he’d be working a 15-hour day with his partner, Derrick Prasad, to brew Resilience. Tilted Mash has a 3.5-barrel brewhouse and a 10-barrel fermenter, so they’ll have to brew three times to make a full batch.

Not that Martinez is complaining.

“I’m proud that the industry has all stepped up,” he said. “They’re all doing their part to help the community that’s supporting us. I’m very proud about that. I’m happy we have the community here locally who are all on board and excited about us brewing this. They’re telling us they’re going to be here and get the beer completely sold out.”

Tilted Mash’s 300-gallon batch should go quickly, Martinez said.

While Sierra Nevada is providing the recipe, Sacramento brewers said they plan to make slight deviations from the plan. Tilted Mash uses a different yeast than Sierra Nevada, so the flavor will be a bit different. Burning Barrel, which opened in Rancho Cordova this year, will be adding a dash of personality to the brew, said co-founder Duncan Alexander.

“At the end of the day, it’s hopefully going to be as good or better than any of the other beers we make as well,” Alexander said. “We’re not making some cheap knock-off beer to make some money. … It just fits in.”

It also fits in with charitable efforts the breweries are already doing. Tilted Mash has been donating a portion of pint sales to the Red Cross and they held a donation drive over the weekend for pet supplies. Burning Barrel has been raising money for Patriots Honor, a local nonprofit that benefits veterans. Track Seven has run multiple charitable efforts.

Alexander and his family live on 22 acres in Rescue, on the outskirts of the metro area. The fire hit home, he said, because it could have been him.

“Everyone’s on edge during the summer because of the fires,” Alexander said.

Burning Barrel will contribute about 350 gallons of Resilience to the fundraising effort, which Alexander figures could bring in around $15,000. With nearly 1,000 breweries in the state, there could soon be a giant influx of cash flowing up to help fire victims.

“We were looking for ways to raise actual cash, and there’s no better way to do it than being able to donate every single dollar spent on the beer,” Alexander said.

Sierra Nevada has asked brewers to join them by making the beer next Monday. The beer will need a couple of weeks to ferment and get bottled, canned or kegged. Drinkers should start seeing it available by the middle of December.

Here comes the hard sell.

If you’ve made it this far into a column about beer, you’re probably going to buy some beer in the middle of December anyway. Make it a Resilience. It’s quite literally the least we can do.

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