Every now and then, a brewery will release a beer that lets you support a worthy cause while you sip. From a limited-edition collaboration brew to a yearlong series of charity suds, here’s your chance to buy a pint and save the world.
Aurochs Brewing Company Boondock Sláinte
Aurochs Brewing Co., a gluten-free brewery in Emsworth, has joined forces with Richbarn Roasters to produce Boondock Sláinte — and that makes us all lucky.
To create the Irish breakfast stout, brewer Chris Carr combined millet, buckwheat, vanilla, American oak chips, lactose and a custom-made, cold brew Brazilian coffee. It clocks in at 8.3 percent ABV, which will definitely wake you up in the morning … and then put you back to sleep rather quickly.
They produced six barrels of the stout, which equates to about 65 cases of 12-ounce cans. Pick some up at Aurochs’ tasting room at 8321 Ohio River Blvd. or, if you’re a Pennsylvania resident, have it shipped to your door.
Twelve percent of the revenue generated from the beverage will support Richbarn’s mission to provide free coffee to homeless shelters so that they can use their own funds for other purposes. Light of Life Rescue Mission, for example, spends $40,000 a year distributing cups of joe to people in need.
Doug Foster, co-owner of Aurochs Brewing, has been talking about creating a collaboration beer for a while with Richbarn’s co-founder Mitch Young.
Young’s wife — like Foster and his business partner Ryan Bove — can’t stomach gluten. The proteins found in traditional brewing ingredients such as wheat, rye and barley wreak havoc on folks who suffer from Celiac disease, an autoimmune condition, and can cause digestive issues, joint pain and fatigue.
The Irish breakfast stout is a new style for the folks at Aurochs, who won the gold medal at the 2020 Great American Beer Festival for their hazy IPA. The brewery has worked with North Hills Community Outreach in the past to promote the organization’s gluten-free food pantry, but this is their first — and hopefully not their last — benefit beer.
Dancing Gnome Watershed Series
Mother Nature is near and dear to the dudes at Dancing Gnome — and their love goes beyond paying homage to the hop plant.
For the past three years, the Sharpsburg brewery has released a yearlong beer series dedicated to the great outdoors. Available on draft and in cans (which include beautiful images by local artists), brews have highlighted local flowers (2018), birds (2019) and trees (2020).
In January, Dancing Gnome introduced a new IPA to kick off its Watershed Series, which showcases the ecological systems surrounding western PA’s lakes, rivers and streams. February’s installment of the Watershed IPA, River Otter, was a quaffable English porter. DG’s Painted Turtle Irish Stout debuts on March 18.
Supplies last about two weeks, depending on the beer style.
A portion of the proceeds will go to this year’s environmental partner, Nine Mile Run Watershed Association (NMRWA). The organization works to involve the community in improving the health of the East End’s 6.5-square-mile urban watershed through educational workshops and events, residential rain garden installations and tree planting.
Andrew Witchey, owner of Dancing Gnome, creates the beer recipes while NMRWA and illustrator Rosalie Haizlett focus on ideas for the label art. Once the subject matter is settled upon, Haizlett is given free range to create the label art.
“We want to bring awareness to Nine Mile Run Watershed Association for myriad reasons, not the least of which is that we want to remain environmentally conscious, and there is a lot of cleanup and change to be done that they are tirelessly working to spearhead,” Witchey says.
Pink Boots Society Brews
Three area breweries are busy whipping up specialty suds to support the Pink Boots Society, an international nonprofit organization focused on encouraging and inspiring women in the alcoholic beverage industry through education. Stay tuned for release details on the forthcoming Pink Boots Society beverages from Inner Groove Brewing, ShuBrew and Altered Genius Brewing Co.
The Pittsburgh chapter of the Pink Boots Society has about 25 members and is made up of women who have their toe in the industry, either as a brewery, cidery or distillery owner, bartender, marketer, writer or other booze-savvy professional.
The organization’s largest annual fundraiser, Pink Books Society Collaboration Brew Day, typically takes place in March on or around International Women’s Day. Due to Covid restrictions this year, the three participating breweries can make the beers any time throughout the year instead of at the annual event, which last year was held at Penn Brewery in Troy Hill. The individual breweries will decide on the recipe, style, label design, release festivities and amount of money to be donated to the cause. Funds raised for the Pink Books Society are split between the local chapter and the national headquarters to provide educational programming and scholarships.
Brooke Franus, co-leader of Pittsburgh’s Pink Boots Society chapter, knows firsthand the benefits of the group’s beers. She was a recipient of the organization’s Cicerone BeerSavvy scholarship, which allowed her to complete the BeerSavvy online course and become a certified beer expert.
Franus, who is also cofounder of Stewards of Beer, a Pittsburgh-based company that promotes local breweries through educational sampling events, hopes more pink boots enter the male-dominated, blue-collar industry.
The NEXT Beer is a new column highlighting different brews, breweries and events in and around Pittsburgh. If you’ve got a beer-related news tip, send me an email. Cheers!