In March, as bars, restaurants and taprooms closed across the country due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, and millions of hospitality workers lost their jobs, the founders of New York’s Other Half Brewing Co. hatched a plan to help.
The result? The All Together beer project, a global collaboration for the brewing world.
The scope is large, but the concept is simple. Any brewery can participate by brewing a beer adorned with a specially designed logo, and donate proceeds from sales to unemployed members of the hospitality industry.
Sam Richardson, cofounder/brewer at Other Half, created an “open source” recipe as a jumping off point for interested brewers. It features ingredients that brewers likely have on hand and could brew quickly: a traditional, 6.5% alcohol by volume (abv) hazy India pale ale.
Some breweries remained faithful to Richardson’s recipe, while others got creative and put their own stamps on the recipe. J. Wakefield Brewing in Miami, for example, brewed its version with mango, passionfruit and guava.
“It’s not important that people follow the recipe we put out there,” says Matt Monahan, cofounder, Other Half. “Just so long as the [logo] is on it. The label means everything.”
The logo is seemingly everywhere these days, popping up on brewery to-go order forms and drinkers’ social media feeds. As of early this month, more than 700 breweries in 48 states and 51 countries had signed up to participate.
Griffin Claw Brewing Co. in Birmingham, Michigan, released its version of All Together last week. Sales Director Kyle VanDeventer called the public response “intense.”
“We sold out pretty damn quickly of the cans,” he says. “We’re still pouring draft but selling all those four packs assured us that not only are we missing our service industry brethren, so is our whole community.
“We don’t know what this world will look like in three weeks, but we know one thing for sure, it won’t look the same without our service industry friends and family. We want to make sure they’re O.K., and make sure that they know that we love and miss them.”
Other Half is not policing donations or even taking an overall tally. “It’s not a competition and we don’t want it to be. Every donation that goes to help someone in the industry is important, whether it’s $100 or $100,000,” says Monahan.
Some breweries banded together to donate their proceeds to a single charity. In New Jersey, more than a dozen companies are funneling sales dollars to the Brewery Strong initiative, which helps brewery and bar employees pay for critical needs.
The project gives contributing breweries a sense of pride and accomplishment.
“We’re so grateful to be in a position where we can participate in something like the All Together project, especially when so many of our colleagues and friends in the craft beer and hospitality industries are hurting right now,” says Derek Hannan, Communications Manager at Castle Island Brewing in Norwood, MA.
The Castle Island version of All Together sold out in less than a week.
“Our favorite part of Other Half’s vision for this collaborative fundraiser is every brewery’s freedom to choose a charity that will best serve their local hospitality community,” says Hannan. “It was a natural choice to donate the proceeds to The Greg Hill Foundation and Samuel Adams’ Restaurant Strong Fund, who are doing incredible things for hospitality workers in Massachusetts and beyond.”
FOAM Brewers in Burlington, Vermont are working with Shift Meals, a program started by local restaurant Skinny Pancake to provide meals to anyone who needs them. It aims to assist “laid-off restaurant workers, musicians, artists, gig workers, farmers, anyone affected by this crisis,” says Jonathan Farmer, a brewery co-owner.
“Not only does it benefit individuals who directly work in Vermont’s restaurants, bars, and breweries, but it also benefits the farmers, artists and musicians that are essential to doing what we do.”
Creature Comforts Brewing in Athens, Georgia chose the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund (RERF) as its All Together beneficiary, after consulting the relief resources promoted by the Georgia Restaurant Association.
“RERF issues grants to restaurant industry employees who have been impacted by Covid-19, including a decrease in wages or loss of employment,” says Matt Stevens, the brewery’s vice president of strategic impact.
In San Diego, funds raised by sales of Pure Project’s All Together beer remained close to home. A brewery spokesperson says the funds are helping “the large number of team members at Pure who have all been substantially affected by this global pandemic, as well as local organic farms and a local organic food prep company through the purchase of food for our team members in need.”
“Ultimately, I think this speaks to the reach of our [beer] community,” says Monahan. He notes that Other Half would release its third batch of All Together in the coming days. “The tragedy is very apparent; we can see who is suffering now that this humongous part of our economy just went down the drain.
“In the past in times of crisis we would gather at the bar…since we can’t do that anymore making this beer is one way that people who want to help can do it, either making it or buying it.”
Published: May 8, 2020