As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the globe, the service industry has seen more than its fair share of devastation. Thousands upon thousands of employees have been laid off and left with uncertainty as to whether they will have jobs to return to. Some industry professionals are speculating the lion’s share of restaurants and bars (specifically, independent mom-and-pops) could remain closed permanently if there isn’t some sort of monetary assistance from the government. While unemployment websites and phone lines jam with desperate, frustrated citizens looking for help, businesses are starting to turn inward and ask themselves what they can do.
Long before now, beer has been known to provide relief—all the way back to medieval times when water wasn’t safe to drink and people instead consumed ale. Modern uses for beer as a balm are as simple as cracking a cold one at the end of a long day or a spirited “cheers” at a local brewery celebration. That tradition continues today. Wilmington’s own Cape Fear Craft Beer Alliance, for example, has started a grocery assistance program for area service industry workers. Now, Brooklyn, New York’s Other Half Brewing is helping. Conceived by Other Half, All Together is a beer to be brewed all over the world, in support of and in solidarity with the service industry. The goal is to provide both awareness of and monetary aid to the workers. As of Friday, April 17, there were 613 breweries participating across 40 countries, and 41 states in the US. Locally, Broomtail Craft Brewery, Salty Turtle and New Anthem Beer Project are participating, as are other North Carolina breweries like Burial, Bhramari and Fullsteam, among others.
“There is an inextricable link that binds together everyone in the hospitality industry,” reads a note at alltogether.beer. “Brewers, servers, bartenders, bussers, dishwashers, GMs, buyers, chefs, owners—we are all in this together. In this industry, when one of us struggles, the rest of us pick them up. It’s baked into who we are.”
Other Half has done everything in its power to make the beer inexpensive to make. They’ve provided the recipe (an IPA with two options, New England or West Coast), artwork, a company willing to print the labels for cans at cost, a website, and graphics for social media promotion. Breweries are encouraged to tweak the recipe as they see fit, and asked to both add some of their own artwork to the label and ensure that proceeds from the beer will go toward supporting their local service industry.
This isn’t Broomtail Craft Brewery’s (BTCB) first foray into a benefit beer. After Hurricane Florence hit in 2018, Walt Dickinson, co-founder of Wicked Weed (Asheville, NC), worked with Barry Owings of BTCB and The Sour Barn, as well as Kyle McKenzie of Green Man Brewery (Asheville, NC), to develop and brew a beer called “Coastal Love.” 100% of proceeds from the beer were donated to alleviate the damage caused by Florence. It was so successful, both in its efforts and production (it won a gold medal at the US Open Beer Championship), Wicked Weed added it to its regularly brewed Beers the Build series, which benefit various causes decided on by the brewery
BTCB chose to follow the Other Half recipe “to the letter,” according to Owings. It was the first batch their new brewer, Vince Juliano, brewed by himself. They will be canning around 50 cases with a tentative release date is May 11. It will be available for retail in 1/6-barrel kegs ($120), 64-ounce growlers ($15), 32-ounce growlers and crowlers ($8), and 16-ounce draft cans ($15 4pk). There isn’t a tentative release date as of press, but pickup will be available at both Broomtail and the Barn during operating hours, Wednesday – Thursday, 3-7 p.m., and Friday – Sunday, 12-7 p.m. All proceeds from BTCB’s sales will be donated to the United States Bartenders’ Guild Charity Foundation.
New Anthem Beer Project (NABP) is also no stranger to collaborations for a good cause. In 2018 it helped with Sierra Nevada Brewing’s (Chico, CA and Mills River, NC) Resilience project to help assuage the damages done by the Camp Fire, the most destructive wildfire in California history.
NABP hasn’t decided where proceeds will go from the beer purchase.
“We will find a good home for it,” brewer Aaron Skiles assures. The brewery posted on Instagram on April 9 they will match up to $2,000 in donations to any of the following charities: Nourish NC, Good Shepherd Ministries, First Fruit Ministries, Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC, Family Promise of the Lower Cape Fear and Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard. The beer will be available in four packs of 16-ounce cans for $16, with a tentative release date is May 15.
NABP is open 7 days a week, noon-8 p.m. Delivery is also available 2-8 p.m. Monday – Saturday, and all purchasers must present a valid ID upon delivery. All orders placed by 6 p.m. will be delivered the same day. There is a $40 minimum on all delivery orders. Currently, the brewery is delivering only to customers in New Hanover County.
The brewers at Salty Turtle Beer Company (STBC) are known for their work with the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center in Surf City, as well as their eco-friendly four pack holders. While the brewery still is donating proceeds from their quarterly dedicated tap to the turtle hospital, they’ve brewed All Together in hopes to get funds to their furloughed staff. Their iteration of the brew will only be available in four packs of 16-ounce cans for $16.99 and will be available April 30. STBC is open 7 days a week, noon-8 p.m.