A mass brewing is underway across the country, with breweries from coast to coast working to churn out one beer in unison, all for wildfire relief.
The fundraising fermentations began with a November letter from Chico-based Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, inviting brewers nationwide to ply their trade in raising funds for victims of the Camp Fire, which has ravaged areas of Butte County since early November.
The invitation included a recipe for the Resilience Butte County Proud IPA and a request that all proceeds from sales of the beer go to the Camp Fire Relief Fund. So far, more than 1,000 breweries have hopped on the effort, agreeing to brew their own Resilience and donate the resulting beer money.
Joining the big brew is the latest addition to Napa’s growing beer scene, Stone Brewing Company. The Escondido-based company opened its Napa brewery and restaurant in the renovated Borreo Building downtown in May.
Steve Gonzalez, head brewer at Stone’s Napa site, recognizes the recipe for Resilience, at least in part. Its semblance to another Sierra Nevada beer, Celebration Ale, takes him back to the early days of his career and his first job as a brewer with Sierra Nevada.
Living in Chico while he worked at the brewery, Gonzalez had friends then in the nearby town of Paradise, which was destroyed by the Camp Fire in early November.
“It definitely hits close to home,” Gonzalez said Tuesday.
Stone Brewing will add to the relief effort with batches of Resilience from both their Liberty Station site in San Diego and its small brewery in downtown Napa.
Gonzalez plans to produce one batch from Stone-Napa’s 10-barrel system, starting on Dec. 10. The brewing should yield about 15 kegs that will be available around the start of next year, he said.
While calling on brewers to join the Resilience effort, Sierra Nevada has also sought out ingredient donations from malt, hop and yeast suppliers that will be forwarded to those making the beer. Some of those supplies will make their way to Napa, Gonzalez said, with Stone’s in-house hops making up the difference.
Gonzalez’s only tweak to the recipe will be a lack of gypsum, which he’s currently short on, meaning his beer may be slightly sweeter than those from other breweries making Resilience.
Lending their hand to fire relief efforts is a familiar step for Stone Brewing. The company’s distributing division raised more than $70,000 in relief funds following last year’s North Bay fires.
Though the brewing of Resilience was prompted by the invitation from Sierra Nevada, before even receiving the letter, Gonzalez knew Stone would be aiding somehow.
“We pretty much said, ‘It’s invite-only, and if we don’t get invited, we’re going to do something anyway,’” he said. “I felt strongly about doing something for the fire relief regardless.”
While Stone is the only Napa brewery producing Resilience, other regional beermakers joining the effort include Napa Smith in Vallejo, Fieldwork Brewing Company at its Berkeley site, Russian River Brewing, Bear Republic, Fort Point, Anchor Brewing, 21st Amendment, and many others.
Napa Palisades Beer Company, while unable to brew its own version of Resilience, according to the company’s Facebook page, has plans to release a beer dubbed Forecast: Hazy and donate part of the sales to the Camp Fire Relief Fund.
For most participating brewers, including Stone-Napa, Resilience will be offered only on site, while Sierra Nevada will debut the beer in stores in late December. Founded by Ken Grossman in 1980, the Chico brewery is California’s largest beermaker and is considered a key forerunner of the craft beer movement.