What’s brewing in the world of altruistic ales?
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
“Every pint of Brewgooder lager you buy unlocks 100 pints of clean water for someone in Africa,” says Brewgooder founder Alan Mahon of the British beer brand and non-profit that supports environmental and community projects in Africa and the UK. Brewgooder’s latest limited edition, a collaboration with New York’s Brooklyn Brewery, is made with the west African “super-grain” Fonio, a drought-resistant cereal that may offer a more sustainable alternative to barley. The grain is grown by community co-ops, says Mahon, “so our suppliers eat first”. The company aims to donate £100,000 for key projects for 2024.
Toast Ale, which makes all its beer from leftover bread, was one of the first responders on the issue of food waste – since 2016 it has upcycled three million slices of bread and distributed £100,000 to environmental charities. With Heineken on board as a strategic investor, it will open its first permanent micro-brewery this year.
The London-based Queer Brewing Project campaigns for greater LGBTQ+ visibility in the beer community – beers include Existence as a Radical Act pale ale and the table beer, Softboi. “Beer is a good candidate for inclusion in the category of ‘slacktivism’, the practice of supporting a cause with minimal effort,” says QBP’s trans founder, Lily Waite, drily. “But we can, in the words of dearly missed singer Scott Hutchison [of indie band Frightened Rabbit], ‘make tiny changes’.” The Project also has a track record of collabs with other brewers – a beer in partnership with New York’s Dyke Beer is currently in the works.
The Nigerian artist Emeka Ogboh uses beer as a medium for exploring ideas around black power, community and migration. His new beer for the Tate Modern, Untitled 1, explores the “historical and contemporary narratives” of the institution – the honey and sugar-cane-infused saison was created in collaboration with the Drop Project Brewing Company in south London. It’s available now in the Tate Modern’s new Corner bar.
Pravda is a brewery on the frontline, literally – its HQ is in Lviv in western Ukraine. Following Russia’s invasion, it launched its Brew For Ukraine campaign, calling on brewers around the world to re-create an open-source recipe for charity – more than 800 breweries took part, raising over €3mn for Ukrainian causes. Pravda’s new beer, a triple IPA called Punisher, is a fundraiser for drones. And the brewer is a linchpin of the Lviv community – its in-house orchestra hosts charity performances; it serves as a public bomb shelter and international press hub. “It’s just beer doing its normal job,” says co-founder Yuriy Zastavny, “uniting different people.”