WILMINGTON — Three breweries in the Cape Fear Region are taking part in a nationwide collaboration brew to benefit victims of California’s devastating Camp Fire.
New Anthem Beer Project (Wilmington), Good Hops Brewing (Carolina Beach), and Makai Brewing (Ocean Isle Beach) are three of 1,392 breweries across the U.S. that are creating their own versions of the Resilience Butte County Proud IPA.
Spearheaded by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s Ken Grossman, an iconic figure in the craft beer industry, the sales of every beer sold will go entirely to the Sierra Nevada Camp Fire Relief Fund.
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“The people of Wilmington are no stranger to disaster. It’s humbling that folks there are willing to participate in this effort to help strangers on the other side of the country,” Sierra Nevada spokesperson Robin Gregory said.
While most participants brewed the Resilience on Nov. 27, under Sierra Nevada’s guidance on the ingredients and profile of the beer, New Anthem’s Aaron Skiles had to wait until this Monday because of capacity constraints.
He’ll brew the IPA with Ryan Witter-Merithew of Casita Cerveceria, a contract brewery in Farmville, and expects to make a release before New Year’s Day.
‘It’d better taste like a Butte County beer’
Skiles saw a strong connection between the victims of Hurricane Florence and the Camp Fire, and his decision to join the project was simply the right thing to do.
“We’ll circle the wagons ourselves — these people are tough — but that Camp Fire was ridiculous,” Skiles said. “[Those images] are some of the most horrifying things I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s just the right thing to do.”
Although the two will add their own ingredients while “putting a fun spin on it,” Skiles said they’ll focus on brewing a batch that falls within Sierra Nevada’s vision of creating a classic west coast IPA.
“We’ll make something that Sierra Nevada will be proud of,” Skills said. “A traditional West Coast beer: not ridiculously bitter, lower in gravity, simple but not common,” Skills said.
Grossman had arranged for Sierra Nevada’s suppliers to donate all the hops, malt, and yeast that participating breweries needed to brew the IPA, according to Gregory. The idea was to make a beer that would pay homage to the victims of the fire.
“We really wanted the taste of home,” Gregory said. “If we were going to be raising money for Butte County, then it’d better taste like a Butte County beer.”
The headquarters of Sierra Nevada, America’s third largest craft brewery, is located in Chico, Butte County, just 140 miles southeast of the fire’s origin.
The Camp Fire burned 153,000 acres of Butte County, killed more than 80 people, and destroyed 14,000 residences. Authorities called it the most destructive wildfire in California history.
A collaborative spirit
Patricia Jones, part-owner of Good Hops Brewing, said the project was a testament to the “collaborative spirit” of craft breweries across the nation and in the Wilmington area.
Good Hops will release their version of the Resilience IPA on Dec. 15, the same day Sierra Nevada will release their cans at retailers across the U.S.
The brewery’s decision to join came down to where the project’s money was going: Sierra Nevada was diverting no portion of sales toward administrative costs, which she said was unprecedented for a project that size.
“We really wanted transparency, to be sure these funds will actually go to those folks affected by the Camp Fire,” Gregory said. “Every dollar that goes to the Camp Fire Relief Fund will go towards those who need it.”
According to Gregory, there are 43 North Carolina breweries participating in the collaboration brew. Aside from the company’s presence in the state — it opened an expansive brewery and taproom near Asheville in 2015 — she said this was a reflection of the state’s growing reputation as a beer destination.
But it was the coming together of breweries across the U.S. that was most impressive to Gregory.
“Ken [Grossman] said he wanted to invite every brewery in the country,” Gregory said. “So Ken started making calls, we sent out mass emails, posted on social media, and pretty soon we realized an entire team was needed to take in messages.”
The country’s brewing community, according to Gregory, responded in unison: “Where do I sign up?”
Local release dates for the Resilience IPA are found below:
- Good Hops Brewing (Carolina Beach): Dec. 15
- Makai Brewing (Ocean Isle Beach): Dec. 22
- New Anthem Beer Project (Wilmington): around New Year’s
Mark Darrough can be reached at Mark@Localvoicemedia.com