West Side Brewing’s Braille Ale Raises Funds for the Cincinnati Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired

Cans of Braille Ale are printed with raised Braille writing reading “CABVI,” “West Side Brewing” and “Braille Ale Raspberry Gose.” West Side Brewing will donate $1 to CABVI for every six-pack sold.

click to enlarge Braille Ale can - Photo: West Side Brewing
Photo: West Side Brewing
Braille Ale can

Reaching into the refrigerator to grab a drink is something that many of us take for granted, since we can simply read the label to know whether we’re choosing a beer versus a soda. The same goes for seeing the difference between our shampoo and conditioner bottles or between our toothpaste and acne cream tubes.

But without the mainstream presence of Braille on everyday items, these simple tasks increase in difficulty for those who are blind and visually impaired. 

Luckily, there will be no mix-ups when West Side Brewing brings accessibility to beer with another year of its Braille Ale Raspberry Gose. The special brew is a collaboration with the Cincinnati Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired (CABVI). 

Cans of Braille Ale are printed with raised Braille writing saying “CABVI,” “West Side Brewing” and “Braille Ale Raspberry Gose.” West Side Brewing will donate $1 to CABVI for every six-pack sold. 

The team chose the style of Gose (a German beer brewed with wheat, barley and coriander) because of its light, sweet and drinkable qualities. The ABV (alcohol by volume) comes in at 4%, and the touch of raspberry leaves it flavorful and approachable. 

This is the second year for the Braille Ale collaboration but the first year for a full-fledged celebration. The coronavirus pandemic thwarted plans for a kick-off party in 2020, though a drive-by release still took place that August.

West Side Brewing will celebrate its Braille Ale Raspberry Gose 6-9 p.m. Thursday, July 8, with a party that will feature blindfolded tastings of beers, a silent auction, live music by Dirty Mike and the 6 Speeds and the Big Dogg BBQ food truck, which will donate 20% of its sales back to CABVI. West Side Brewing will donate a portion of bar sales from the event to CABVI, as well. Natalie Jones of Q102 (WKRQ-FM) will be on hand to chat with station fans. 

click to enlarge West Side Brewing taproom - Photo: Olive Collins Niesz
Photo: Olive Collins Niesz
West Side Brewing taproom

Cans of Braille Ale are printed with raised Braille writing saying “CABVI,” “West Side Brewing” and “Braille Ale Raspberry Gose.” West Side Brewing will donate $1 to CABVI for every six-pack sold. 

The partnership between West Side Brewing and CABVI began in late 2019, when West Side Brewing sales representative Ben Metz met Aaron Bley, CABVI’s vice president of community relations, at the organization’s annual ‘Dining in the Dark’ fundraising gala. Metz and Bley presented the idea of a Braille Ale collaboration to West Side Brewing CEO Joe Mumper, and the brewery’s team was “all in, right away,” says Bley.

CABVI’s stated mission is “empowering people who are blind or visually impaired with opportunities to seek independence.” Located on Gilbert Avenue near Eden Park, CABVI offers services like assistive technology (like screen readers and magnifiers), information services such as its Radio Reading Service, and employment opportunities in its ‘Industries Program.’

The organization provides programs, services, support groups and more to about 4,500 clients a year, Bley says.

As a private nonprofit organization, CABVI receives limited government funding aside from an occasional grant opportunity, so it greatly relies on donations and fundraising events to continue the work that it does for Cincinnati’s blind and visually impaired community. 

West Side Brewing is in the process of trademarking “Braille Ale” with the intention of using the brand to help train other breweries on including Braille on products. The brewery worked with a company in the Netherlands to learn the Braille printing process — something that is both technically difficult and expensive. 

In the future, Metz says the brewery would love to include Braille on all cans and implement a full Braille menu in the taproom. 

“(Braille) should be on Budweiser labels, it should be on Miller labels, it should be an industry standard,” says Metz. He hopes that if the presence of Braille becomes more common in the beer industry, the cost of production of Braille on cans will go down, making it easier for smaller breweries to provide. 

Beer drinkers can purchase six-packs of Braille Ale in the West Side Brewing taproom and at retailers around Cincinnati, including Jungle Jim’s in Fairfield, with more locations to be announced.

West Side Brewing, 3044 Harrison Ave., Westwood, westsidebrewing.com.

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