Craft Beer for a Cause: $73.4 Million of Good in 2016

American craft brewers are not just good at making amazing, flavorful beer—they are also great at using their beer as a force for good. Today there are more than 5,600 breweries entrenched in thousands of communities sharing this common theme. Craft brewers advance our country one community at a time.

Craft brewers donated an estimated $73.4 million to charitable causes in 2016, up from $71 million in 2014. The most recent figure is from the 2016 Brewery Operations Benchmarking Survey, otherwise known as BOBS, released by the BA in the second quarter of this year. The Brewer Association’s biennial comprehensive survey of America’s craft brewers compiles brewery operations information to establish and share industry benchmarks. BA members can go to BrewersAssociation.org to access the full data.

Not many business communities can say they give throughout the year, week in and week out, to charities and non-profits. Craft brewers should excel in sharing this mantra: “Craft brewers use craft beer as a cause for other causes.” With the estimated figure from BOBS, we have an amazing updated dollar amount tied to craft brewers’ charitable contributions.

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Craft brewers give in a multitude of ways. These American brewing entrepreneurs and risk takers strive to build culture and community, putting people and principles ahead of profit. Craft brewers go above and beyond to help make the planet a better place by contributing time and again to the charities that matter. Here’s a sampling of recent contributions, compiled from press releases sent to The New Brewer.

  • To date, Ball Corporation, the CAN’d Aid Foundation, and Oskar Blues Brewery have collaborated to package and distribute hundreds of thousands of cans of clean water to victims of flooding and other disasters, including Hurricane Harvey and the Flint, Mich. water crisis.
  • Foothills Brewing in North Carolina created a monthly IPA series, the Craft Happiness IPA Project, to capitalize on craft beer’s focus on community. Each month it brews a different IPA themed with a need within the community, and Foothills donates a portion of sales to an organization that services that need. The first beer in the series was called Domicile, brewed to bring awareness to homelessness and the need for affordable housing.
  • In honor of the 20th running of the TD Beach to Beacon 10K (August 5 in Cape Elizabeth, Maine), Shipyard Brewing donated $20,000 in gift cards to the 20 charities that have been annual beneficiaries of the race.
  • Crafty Ales and Lagers, a small employee-owned microbrewery in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, held a Shaving for Cancer event on March 25, raising $4,410 for two charities.
  • Since 2005, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant has donated more than $260,000 to CureSearch for Children’s Cancer, helped raise more than $230,000 to support efforts of the Food Bank of Delaware in the past three years, and has contributed more than $70,000 in additional support to various charitable partners across Delaware alone over the past decade.
  • Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. in Fort Worth, Texas, presented a check for more than $5,500 to the USS Fort Worth Support Committee from sales of a special beer. Plus, the brewery recently met its initial $10,000 fundraising goal for charity: water to help build wells in developing parts of the world.
  • More than 40 San Diego County breweries, beer-centric bars, and eateries pooled their energies to raise funds to support the mission of the Lupus Foundation of Southern California by participating in the 2017 Beer to the Rescue Beer to the Rescue has raised more than $70,000 for the LFSC in the past two years.
  • Brad Shell, owner of The Unknown Brewing Company in Charlotte’s South End area, recently announced the city’s first donation competition for the beer community called Brewers Charity Championship. The Unknown Brewing Company is encouraging all breweries in the Charlotte area to join in the collaborative competition to see who can raise the most money for charities throughout 2017.

By nurturing a collaborative beer culture while many other businesses focus solely on competition, craft brewers have earned their reputation as do-gooders. I feel it when I walk into taprooms, brewpubs, and festivals: an unprecedented level of collaboration and support for many charitable causes.

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So with this updated estimated dollar amount, breweries should consider summarizing and publicly sharing, again and again, the ways they contribute directly to local communities and towns. How many jobs do you provide? How many tour visitors do you host? What are some of your charitable contributions and favorite non-profit causes?

Cheers to craft brewers for using their small brewery businesses to create cultures of generosity while advancing healthier, more vibrant communities.

This article was originally published in the September/October 2017 issue of The New Brewera bi-monthly journal published by the Brewers Association.

Julia is craft beer program director at the Brewers Association and publisher of CraftBeer.com. She is a homebrewer, a BJCP beer judge, Certified Cicerone®, co-author of the CraftBeer.com Beer & Food Course and co-author of Beer Pairing (Voyageur Press). In her role at the BA she serves as an educator and as a spokesperson for the association.

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