Here’s how the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company gives back
Giving back has become the norm for businesses these days and in the midst of everything that has happened over the past few years, at least there is this sweet news. We are paying more attention than ever to what we consume, from lineup to beer. And it is no longer enough to be good on the surface. Rightly so, we want brands that do good too much.
It is perhaps not surprising that Sierra Nevada gives back to the community in a meaningful way. The iconic California brewery practically spearheaded the craft movement with the launch of its still-unrivaled lager in 1980. Since then, the Chico outfit has gone unplugged, shaping what it means to grow in style. The beer has remained unchanged in its quality, the label has made a number of great collaborations (the Beer Camp series is legendary), and a deserved and ever-growing audience has jumped on board. Better yet, Sierra Nevada has made an effort to give back to the community it depends on.
With Dankful IPA, one of the label’s flagship beers, Sierra Nevada helps those in need. It all happened because of COVID-19, explains Robin Gregory, the brewery’s communications director. “When we saw our communities battling the first waves of the pandemic, we knew we had to do something,” Gregory said. Teaming up with World Central Kitchen (WCK) was an easy choice as Sierra Nevada had already witnessed their excellent work during the devastating California wildfires of 2018.
“When the campfire devastated much of our Butte County in 2018, WCK stepped in and offered Thanksgiving dinner to thousands of people in our community,” said Gregory. “When COVID arrived, we helped them fund their #ChefsForAmerica program, which put hard-hit food and beverage workers back to work to fight food insecurity across the country. It met two needs, and we all seek to maximize the impact.
As the beer claims, this is a generously hopped number, touting seven varieties of hops. Gregory says if you like a classic West Coast IPA, this is your beer – resinous and delicious, “with heavy 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 made sense for the brand to partner with other nonprofits across the country (and it’s an impressive, continuing list). Sierra Nevada selects a new partner each quarter. “We brought in our teams on the ground to identify the needs of their communities nationally,” said Gregory. “It has enabled us to tackle food insecurity – which has become an even bigger problem nationwide throughout the pandemic – from coast to coast. “
Why go through trouble? 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’re passionate about great beer, but we’re also passionate about our communities and our planet. “
That kind of stance makes beer even better, at least from an ethical standpoint. “Our owners and employees are all pretty high on the ‘fuck it’ 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 is already targeting some big non-professional collaborations for 2022, including The Trust For Public Land and Protect Our Winters.
For now, it’s all about feeding those in the hard-hit areas. The cause is important and distinct from the quality of the beer. “We didn’t want the donation to depend on the success of the sales,” says Gregory. “We wanted to make sure we were having an impact, anyway, so the donation is coming directly from Sierra Nevada, not from Dankful sales. Beer serves to educate our nonprofit partners and the important work they do. She says this all aligns with the brand’s values and while this route is often the cheapest or easiest in nature, it’s worth it in the long run.
“Giving back has been part of our philosophy for over 40 years. It’s become a vital part of who we are, and we’re always looking for ways to help, ”adds Gregory.