Giving back has become the norm for companies these days and amid all the sour that’s unfolded over the last few years, at least there’s this sweet news. We pay attention to what we’re consuming more than ever, from programing to beer. And it’s no longer enough to just be good on the surface. Justifiably, we want brands that do good too.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that Sierra Nevada would give back to the community in a significant way. The iconic California brewery practically spearheaded the craft movement with the launch of its still-unmatched pale ale back in 1980. Since, the Chico outfit has plugged away, modeling what it means to grow in style. The beer has remained unchanged in its quality, the label has done a number of great collaborations (the Beer Camp series is legendary), and a deserved and still-growing following has jumped aboard. Better still, Sierra Nevada has made an effort to give back to the community that it depends on.
With the Dankful IPA, one of the label’s hop-forward core beers, Sierra Nevada is helping those in need. It all came about due to COVID-19, says Robin Gregory, the brewery’s director of communications. “When we saw our communities struggling through the first waves of the pandemic, we knew we had to do something,” Gregory says. Teaming up with World Central Kitchen (WCK) was an easy choice as Sierra Nevada had already witnessed their great work during the devastating California wildfires of 2018.
“When the Camp Fire devastated much of our Butte County in 2018, WCK stepped in and provided Thanksgiving dinner to thousands of people in our community,” Gregory says. “When COVID came around, we helped them fund their #ChefsForAmerica program, which put hard-hit food and beverage workers back to work to battle food insecurity across the country. It was fulfilling two needs, and we’re all about maximizing impact.”
As the beer touts, it’s a generously hoppy number, touting seven hop varieties. Gregory says if you like a classic west coast IPA, this is your beer — resinous and danky, “with big notes of pine and tropical fruit,” she says.
Of course, Sierra Nevada has grown much over the years and now has brewing facilities on either coast. With that kind of presence, it made sense for the brand to team up with other non-profits all over the country (and it’s an impressive, ongoing list). Sierra Nevada selects a new partner every quarter. “We called on our field teams to pinpoint the needs in their communities nationwide,” Gregory says. “This enabled us to battle food insecurity — which became an even bigger nationwide issue throughout the pandemic—from coast to coast.”
Why go through the trouble? Aside from the prevailing good of it all, Gregory says it’s about obligation. “As our owner Ken says, as a producer that uses natural resources, we have an obligation to give back,” she says. “We’re passionate about great beer, but we’re also passionate about our communities and our planet. ”
That kind of stance makes the beer taste all the better, at least from an ethical standpoint. “Our owners and our employees are all pretty high on the ‘give-a-damn’ scale,” Gregory continues. “We hope our drinkers can see that, too.” And there appears to be no end in sight, as Gregory says the brand already has its sights set on some great non-prof collaborations for 2022, including The Trust For Public Land and Protect Our Winters.
For now, it’s all about feeding those in hard-hit areas. The cause is significant and separate from how well the beer does. “We didn’t want the donation to be contingent upon sales success,” Gregory says. “We wanted to make sure we made an impact, either way, so the donation comes directly from Sierra Nevada, not from Dankful sales. The beer serves to bring awareness to our nonprofit partners and the important work they’re doing.” She says this all aligns with brand values and while going this route is often the least inexpensive or simplest in nature, it’s worth it in the long run.
“Giving back has been a part of our ethos for more than 40 years. It’s become a core part of who we are, and we’re always looking for ways to help,” adds Gregory.
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