Giving back has become the norm for businesses these days and amid all that has happened over the past few years, there is at least this sweet news. We are more attentive than ever to what we consume, from programming to beer. And it is no longer enough to be good on the surface. Quite rightly, we want brands that do good too much.
It’s perhaps no surprise that the Sierra Nevada gives back to the community in a meaningful way. The iconic California brewery all but spearheaded the craft movement with the launch of its still unparalleled lager in 1980. The Chico outfit has been hip ever since, shaping what it means to grow up in style. The beer remained unchanged in quality, the label did a number of great collaborations (the Beer Camp series is legendary), and a deserved and ever-growing following jumped on board. Best of all, Sierra Nevada has made an effort to give back to the community it depends on.
With the Dankful IPA, one of the label’s flagship beers, Sierra Nevada helps those in need. It all happened thanks to COVID-19, says Robin Gregory, the brewery’s communications director. “When we saw our communities going through the first waves of the pandemic, we knew we had to do something,” says Gregory. 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 Campfire devastated much of our Butte County in 2018, WCK stepped in and provided Thanksgiving dinner for thousands of people in our community,” Gregory says. “When COVID arrived, we helped them fund their #ChefsForAmerica program, which put hard-hit food and beverage workers back to work to address food insecurity across the country. It served two needs, and we’re all looking to maximize impact. »
As the beer touts, it’s a generously hopped number, boasting seven varieties of hops. Gregory says if you like a classic West Coast IPA, this is your beer – resinous and excellent, “with big notes of pine and tropical fruit,” she says.
Of course, the Sierra Nevada has grown a lot over the years and now has brewing facilities on both coasts. With that kind of presence, it only made sense for the brand to partner with other nonprofits across the country (and that’s an impressive and continuing list). Sierra Nevada selects a new partner each quarter. “We used our field teams to identify needs in their communities nationwide,” says Gregory. “It’s allowed us to tackle food insecurity — which has become an even bigger national issue throughout the pandemic — from coast to coast.”
Why bother? Aside from the good that prevails in all of this, Gregory says it’s a matter of obligation. “As our owner Ken says, as a producer who uses natural resources, we have an obligation to give back,” she says. “We are passionate about good beer, but we are also passionate about our communities and our planet. ”
This kind of position makes beer taste better, at least from an ethical point of view. “Our owners and employees are all pretty high on the ‘so-that’ scale,” continues Gregory. “We hope our drinkers can see it too.” And there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight, as Gregory says the brand already has some big non-professional collaborations lined up for 2022, including The Trust For Public Land and Protect Our Winters.
For now, it’s about feeding people in hard-hit areas. The cause is important and separate from the quality of the beer. “We didn’t want the donation to depend on sales success,” says Gregory. “We wanted to make sure we had an impact, anyway, so the donation comes directly from Sierra Nevada, not from Dankful sales. The beer serves to raise awareness of our non-profit partners and the important work they do. She says it’s all aligned with the brand’s values, and while this route is often the least expensive or easiest, it’s worth it in the long run.
“Giving back has been part of our philosophy for over 40 years. It’s become an essential part of who we are, and we’re always looking for ways to help,” adds Gregory.