A while back, I was asked to review the Shelby Township restaurant, Sherwood Brewing Co. Aside from their good food and beer, I noted some of Sherwood’s other good deeds. For example, one of the owners had a career background in youth development and family services, and it showed in the brewery’s community connections. They gladly donated to local school events, and held an annual “Presents for Pints” program, where customers traded wishes (read: gifts) for beer and pizza to benefit children in need in the surrounding communities.
Sherwood is not alone in this civic-minded approach. Consider the Axle Brewing Co. offshoot, Livernois Tap, in Ferndale. Inflamed by President Trump’s tweeting that he was a “genius … and a very stable genius at that,” they brewed their own batch of “Very Stable Genius,” a golden wheat brew. The brewery eventually donated the proceeds of sales to Ferndale Radio (100.7 FM), which broadcasts nearby in the Rust Belt Market.
The list of philanthropic breweries goes on. For last year’s Hour Detroit annual Candy Cane or Coal awards, I was thrilled to recognize the efforts of my friends at 8 Degrees Plato Detroit, a craft beer store and tap room, whose staff pooled their tips to develop a collaborative beer with Batch Brewing Co. The bar’s profits from the brew, as well as from a daylong fundraising event, were donated to Enough SAID, a program that helps fund the testing of neglected rape kits in Wayne County. They ended up raising enough funds to test some 25 kits.
The folks at Batch Brewing Co. are also the brains behind a statewide program called Feelgood Tap. Co-founders Stephen Roginson and Jason Williams of Batch, themselves the beneficiaries of the 2013 Hatch Detroit Contest, decided to give back by raising funds to support local and regional charities.
Here’s how the program works: Brewpubs and craft beer-loving bars or restaurants designate one special beer from their menu and raise the price by $1. These contributions are then sent to Feelgood Tap and distributed to local nonprofits. At Batch’s Corktown location, they’ve upped the ante by matching $1 of their own, thereby raising $2 for each Feelgood Tap beer. (A recent lucky recipient of these donations was the Multiple Sclerosis Society.) Today, over 30 Michigan locations have joined Feelgood Tap.
One of the more recent converts is Oxford’s HomeGrown Brewing Co., which celebrated its first year in business by joining the program. They then upped the ante by selling T-shirts woven with Eco Repreve, yarn made from 100 percent recycled fibers. HomeGrown also spreads local wealth by sourcing ingredients from Oxford-area businesses such as Simple Gift Farms, East River Organic Farm, White Pine Coffee, and Golden Apiaries.
The bottom line: Most breweries are businesses with social impacts. Next time you visit your local pub, help raise funds by raising a glass.