'Tis the season’s most rewarding ale

More than 40 local breweries tap hallowed brewer’s recipe for fire relief

Cover versions of this Sierra Nevada IPA will be served by local breweries this winter. Photo courtesy Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
  • Cover versions of this Sierra Nevada IPA will be served by local breweries this winter. Photo courtesy Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

If you’re a San Diego beer fan visiting breweries this winter, you may notice the same beer keep showing up on tasting room menus: Resilience Butte County Proud IPA.

Your eyes do not deceive you. No fewer than 43 San Diego breweries are brewing the same beer recipe, with good reason: to raise money for victims of November’s Camp Fire, the most destructive in state history. In doing so, they’re following the lead of venerable craft brewery Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Sierra Nevada’s Chico, California brewery sits only ten miles from Paradise, the town decimated by the fire. Homes of brewery employees were among the estimated 14,000 destroyed, and Sierra Nevada was quick to respond with support for evacuees, including provision of free meals and beers in the fire’s aftermath. It's working directly with FEMA and the government of Paradise.

But it’s the business’s decision to fundraise for fire victims with beer that has become a nationwide phenomenon. In addition to distributing Resilience IPA in cans, Sierra Nevada founder Ken Grossman penned an open letter to American brewers, offering to share the IPA recipe in return for fundraising efforts. “We’re inviting you to brew a version at your brewery,” he wrote, “and sell it at it your Pub or Taproom, with 100% of the proceeds going to support those impacted by the Camp Fire.”

He expected about 200 breweries to participate. Thus far, 1482 have committed to brew Resilience: roughly one in five of the nation’s more than 7000 breweries. Sierra Nevada now expects donations from the beer to top $10 million, and reach as high as $15 million. A Sierra Nevada spokesperson stated that the "funds raised will go to organizations that help people who have been directly impacted."

In San Diego, the 43 breweries that have already committed to brewing the beer represent nearly a third of our county’s beer brands. For industry watchers, there’s little surprise seeing brewers jump at the chance to fundraise. “Last year alone in San Diego, craft brewers donated $4.9 million to non-profits,” notes Matthew Zirpolo, slated to serve as president of the San Diego Brewers Guild in 2019. "I think it just goes along with the culture."

Zirpolo is a co-founder Burgeon Beer Company, which will serve its own version of Resilience. As a San Diego native, he’s experienced several wildfire evacuations. When he and his Burgeon partners heard about Sierra Nevada’s campaign, they didn’t hesitate to get involved. “There was never really a question.”

The mix of local breweries brewing the beer include the county’s oldest and largest, and several of its smallest and youngest. Even San Marcos brewery Double Peak Brewing, currently a permit away from opening for business, plans to serve Resilience in the new year.

In the near term, Sierra Nevada is promoting a nationwide Resilience Day, tomorrow, December 20, to publicize the beer’s release. In San Diego, brewery release dates vary.

It’s already being served at a handful of locations, including Societe Brewing, Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery, and Savagewood Brewing in Scripps Ranch. Savagewood owner and brewer Darrel Brown describes the Cascade- and Centennial-hopped brew as in character with Sierra Nevada’s celebrated IPAs, with citrus and pine notes bolstered by a sweet caramel backbone. He adds, “It's really quite refreshing.”

See below for the current list of San Diego breweries committed to serving Resilience IPA. The ongoing national list will be maintained by Sierra Nevada here.

  • Alesmith Brewing Company
  • Ballast Point Brewing
  • Belching Beaver Brewery
  • Benchmark Brewing Company
  • Bitter Brothers Brewing
  • Black Plague Brewing
  • Burgeon Beer Company
  • Culture Brewing Co
  • Dos Desperados Brewery
  • Double Peak Brewing Co.
  • Fall Brewing Company
  • Fourpenny House
  • Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant
  • Green Flash Brewing Co
  • Half Door Brewing
  • Home Brewing Co
  • Karl Strauss Brewing Company
  • Ketch Brewing
  • Latchkey Brewing Company
  • Melvin Brewing
  • Mike Hess Brewing Co.
  • Mikkeller San Diego
  • Modern Times Beer
  • OB Brewery
  • Papa Marce's Cerveceria
  • Pariah Brewing Company
  • Pizza Port Brewing Company
  • Poor House Brewing Company
  • Port Brewing / The Lost Abbey
  • Pure Project, Llc
  • Resident Brewing
  • Rock Bottom La Jolla
  • Rouleur Brewing Company
  • Saint Archer Brewing Company
  • San Diego Brewing Co.
  • Savagewood Brewing Company
  • Second Chance Beer Company
  • Societe Brewing Company
  • Stone Brewing
  • The Bell Marker Brewery and Kitchen
  • Thorn Brewing Company
  • Two Roots Brewing Co.
  • White Labs

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If this is a charitable effort, it is gratifying to see three of the largest and presumably richest brewers joining in. I'm referring to Ballast Point, Karl Strauss, and Stone. (There may be others in that category--I'm no expert at all of the local brewing scene.)

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