Brewers Give Back

Local breweries put a focus on philanthropy through sales and events

click to enlarge MadTree gives back through monthly events and more. - Photo: Phil Heidenreich
Photo: Phil Heidenreich
MadTree gives back through monthly events and more.

“Beer builds community, and community builds beer.” Mike Stuart, director of people and social strategy at MadTree, takes pride in the brewery’s tagline and makes it a reality through his role facilitating the company’s charitable actions.

With his team of brewers and an internal committee, Stuart helps MadTree support four core charities year-round: Give Back Cincinnati, Starfire, CityLink Center and Cincinnati Community ToolBank. But the brewery doesn’t stop there. It also gives back to another 12 charities throughout the year, highlighting one per month at their taproom in Oakley via an array of donation-focused events and games. The committee already has each month’s charity scheduled through 2018.

“For us, community is not a one-time thing or just a project-based thing,” Stuart says. “It’s a part of our mission statement. We have three cornerstones to our mission statement, which are making quality beer, taking care of our employees and supporting the community.”

Outside of the taproom, MadTree recently partnered with a number of Cincinnati chefs to create Mix and Mash: Recipes for the Table and Glass. This 125-page, full-color cookbook is riddled with recipes that feature MadTree beer as an ingredient, including braised pork belly with apple butter, slaw and spaetzle and a vegetable fritto misto. The $50 cookbook can be purchased on MadTree’s website and a portion of the proceeds go to Newtown’s La Soupe, a nonprofit committed to transforming local food waste into nutritious meals for food-insecure families in Cincinnati.

Of course, MadTree isn’t the only brewery to place an emphasis on charity and supporting the community — Stuart and Co. are merely an example of how Queen City’s brewers are giving back, one pint at a time.

Through Cincinnati’s The Cure Starts Now foundation, which supports children’s cancer research, both Rivertown Brewery and Braxton Brewing Company have created special-edition beers to support the cause.

Rivertown first got involved with The Cure Starts Now in 2016, teaming up to create Brennan’s Bucknut Brew, a chocolate peanut butter stout. Rivertown donated a portion of the proceeds from every keg sold back to the nonprofit.

Eager to remain involved, Rivertown teamed up with organization again in 2017. The brewery released Salted Carm-Ale in November. Inspired by Lauren Hill, who attended Mount St. Joseph University and ultimately passed away from a rare form of brain cancer, the brew is based on her favorite candy. A portion of the proceeds of pints sold at the taproom went back to The Cure Starts Now and the beer ultimately became Rivertown’s winter limited edition series, seeing distribution throughout Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Florida.

Lindsey Roeper, Rivertown’s “Dream Facilitator” and wife of owner Jason Roeper, has been overjoyed with their relationship with The Cure Starts Now and remains appreciative of the fact that she and her husband are in a position to give back.

“To sum it up in one word, I’d say it’s amazing,” she says. “To be able to use our business in a way that brings more good into the world is just an amazing feeling. We’ve been very blessed and worked hard to be in this position to give back in meaningful ways.”

Braxton also partnered with The Cure Starts Now, releasing Blueberry Pie Brown Ale in September 2017 as part of their collaboration with both Graeter’s and the nonprofit. Taking flavor inspiration from Graeter’s Elena’s Blueberry Pie ice cream — Elena is the little girl who inspired the creation of The Cure Starts Now — Braxton canned the beer and donated a portion of the proceeds.

Following a similar charitable model, Listermann Brewing Company partnered with the Cincinnati Zoo to create Team Fiona, a New England-style IPA, last June to support the Queen City’s favorite hippo. Now canning the beer for the sixth time since its release, Listermann general manager Jason Brewer says Team Fiona has been the source of $40,000 to $50,000 in donations — making the collaboration a giant success.

Like MadTree, Listermann doesn’t limit their charitable reach to one area: Brewer and his team also work with Elementz, an Over-the-Rhine-based and Hip Hop-centric nonprofit that helps inner city youth find their voice and engage in the community.

Listermann works with Elementz on beer collaborations like their IPAs Sabotage and Babycat Meowface and donates the proceeds. The brewery also allows kids and teens involved with the nonprofit to spray paint one of the taproom’s outside walls throughout the year.

Breweries also give back through weekly events. Over-the-Rhine’s Rhinegeist gives local nonprofits an opportunity to fundraise at their taproom through the Charitable Suds program. Every Wednesday from 5-8 p.m. a portion of the brewery’s proceeds go to that week’s organization. And on Wednesday nights at Ludlow, Ky.’s Bircus, it’s “One For All Wednesdays,” where $1 from each pint sold goes to a selected cause.

As craft beer and drinking local continues to grow in popularity, Cincinnatians can take pride in the fact that committed, charitable-minded owners are behind plenty of pints.  

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