Breweries That Give Back

Anyone who knows me knows that I love craft beer. I love it so much in fact that I’ll sometimes stake out some of Los Angeles’ best beer shops on days I know they’re suppose to receive shipments of hard-to-find beer. I know, it’s a problem.

And if you’ve spent any time on WTG recently, then you may have seen me writing more about doing good and giving back, or even seen the 1% for the Planet logo. So with my love for craft beer and a new emphasis on doing good, it seemed high time to write about some of the craft breweries around America that are giving back and doing good for the planet. As much as I love a good brewery, even better is a good brewery that’s doing good.  

Read on to discover 10 American craft beers that give back.

10 Breweries That Give Back

Patagonia Provisions Long Root Ale

If you’ve already read my post about outdoor brands that give back, then you know that I’m obsessed with Patagonia. And while writing my last post I discovered Patagonia Provisions, which is a rather new responsibly-sourced food initiative from the outdoor brand that includes Long Root Ale. As Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard, describes Patagonia Provisions, “We’ll continue to offer a growing selection of foods that address environmental issues, and continue to encourage support of local food producers.”

With Long Root Ale, Patagonia has teamed up with what's arguably one of the Pacific Northwest's best breweries, Hopworks Urban Brewery, to create a beer that's the first to be made with Kernza, which is a self-sustaining grain using regenerative agriculture practices. In addition to Kernza, Long Roote Ale (a pale ale), is brewed with organic two-row barley, organic yeast, and organic Chinook, Mosaic and Crystal hops. While this isn't a brewery per se, I think it's worth mentioning first because of the uniqueness of this being a sustainable beer, and because it's from Patagonia, which has long been a leader in corporate and social responsibility.

Cheers to long summer days. #EnjoyResponsibly21+ Photo: @jordanrosenphotography

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Last year Patagonia Provisions worked with local food banks to provide 20,000 meals for those affected by natural disasters, including Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, and the California wildfires.  Beyond food impact, you can find out more about Patagonia’s environmental impact and social responsibility here.

Stone Brewing

Obviously, I had to include some California breweries on this list, and there are few more admired than Stone Brewing out of San Diego. Stone Brewing was my first craft beer love for Stone Pale Ale, Stone’s first ever beer, which was recently decommissioned. What started as a little San Diego craft brewery two decades ago now has locations around the world, including Richmond, Berlin, Pasadena, and Napa.

You can actually take brewery tours of Stone's San Diego (Escondido), Richmond, and Berlin facilities, with $1 from each ticket going to a local charity. Since Stone Brewing opened in 1996, they've contributed nearly $3 million to charities and nonprofits, many of which comes from the Stone Anniversary Celebration and Invitational Beer Festival, which has raised $1.5 million. You can see a partial list of organizations that Stone Brewing has contributed to here.

Pure Brewing

Having lived in Costa Rica, and now living in Southern California, it seems particularly fitting to feature Pure Brewing, a San Diego brewery with Costa Rican roots. The brewery was originally going to open in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, where founder Jesse Pine was living at the time, but a turn of events brought them to Miramar, opening just two years ago. Environmentally-conscious brewing is built into the brewery's ethos, as they brew with the seasons using local and organic seasonal ingredients. As Pure Project puts it, "Use the best ingredients you can find, leave out the chemicals and fining agents, add in some passion, hard work and a bit of love we believe you can taste the difference."

What’s more, they too, are a 1% for the Planet member, donating 1% of sales to environmental nonprofits. Some of the organizations they support include Surfrider, San Diego Coastkeeper, and Outdoor Outreach.

Appalachian Mountain Brewery

The next brewery, Appalachian Mountain Brewery, takes us to my home state of North Carolina to the mountain town of Boone. According to Appalachian Mountain Brewery, the brewery’s mission is to “sustainably brew high quality beer, support local non-profits, and help our community prosper. Our mission is simple: Sustainability, community and philanthropy.” They give back in a variety of ways, such as the We Can So You Can Foundation, a public charity funded in part by the brewery, which invests in local businesses engaged in education, agriculture, and sustainability. Additionally, they have an initiative called Pints for Non-Profits, in which a portion of every pint they sell in the tasting room is donated to local charities and nonprofits. Don’t like beer? That’s okay, because they also have an extensive list of ciders they make.


Hanging Hills Brewing

The American craft beer tour continues to New England at Hanging Hills Brewing in Connecticut. Like some of the other breweries mentioned here, Hanging Hills Brewing Company has a strong commitment to using the freshest, most local ingredients as possible to shrink its carbon footprint. This continues with Hanging Hills' brewing process, as the brewery shares on its website about choosing a steam-powered brewhouse to minimize its carbon footprint, and set (and surpass) a water usage goal annually. Then, they partner with local farms to provide the brewery's spent grain as feed for the farm's livestock. Hanging Hills Brewing is also a 1% for the Planet member, and recently collaborated with REI on a limited edition beer, Old New England Trail IPA, with 10% of sales going to the Connecticut Forest & Park Association.

Smog City

I had to include at least one Los Angeles brewery, since I call it home and consider L.A. one of America’s most underrated beer cities. Smog City is actually one of my favorite breweries in Los Angeles, located in a corner of the county, Torrance, which is lined with breweries, but that most travelers never visit. Within just a mile of one another are breweries that include Absolution, Strand, Yorkshire Square, The Dudes, Monkish, and Smog City. But like several other breweries on this list, Smog City is a 1% for the Planet member, which they promote prominently on the Los Angeles brewery's home page. Each month Smog City donates a percentage of taproom sales each Thursday to organizations that protect and support the environment. Last month it was the Coalition for Clean Air, while other months have included organizations like Food Forward, Aquarium of the Pacific, and The Keep A Breast Foundation.

Ex Novo Brewing

I can’t stop saying enough good things about Ex Novo Brewing because Ex Novo Brewing does so many good things. First and foremost, Ex Novo Brewing, a Portland brewery, gives 100% of its profits away. Yes, all of its profits. Some of the causes they support includes Friends of the Children (which works with high-risk children), International Justice Mission (IJM), Impact NW, and MercyCorps. While Ex Novo began as a nonprofit, they announced last year that they would exist in Oregon as a benefit company. Finally, they even have a volunteer group, which as the website puts it, are "volunteers who work to extend Ex Novo's mission of giving back by volunteering their time to better Portland and the lives of those who live in Portland." Talk about giving back!

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Brewery Vivant

Honestly, I could spend all day talking about many of the breweries here since doing good is weaved into so many different parts of these breweries. That, plus they make damn good beer. And Brewery Vivant is no exception. First of all, Brewery Vivant is the world's first LEED-certified microbrewery. That means that sustainability and environmental initiatives are literally built into the brewery. But Brewery Vivant’s commitment to the environment goes much further with things like the company's annual "Beer The Change" report, which is a study they release each year that reports on the company's sustainability impact.

Brewery Vivant also hosts pint nights, in which $1 for every beer purchased is donated to different organizations. Oh, and they did a carbon footprint report of the brewery's flagship beer, Farm Hand. 

3cross Fermentation Cooperative

3cross Fermentation Cooperative is actually the first community-owned brewery in Massachusetts. That's right, a community-owned brewery! So what does it exactly mean that it's a cooperative brewery? Well that means that both workers and consumers own it, with reps elected to the Board of Directors, and input and special benefits offered to members. In this case, 3cross Fermentation's members receive perks like a 20% discount on merchandise, patronage dividends, and members-only beer.

What I perhaps love the most about 3cross Fermentation Cooperative is the brewery’s no-tipping policy, which means that any cash left on the bar is donated to a designated charity each month (members vote on the monthly charities). The Massachusetts brewery is also a 1% of the Planet member, donating to organizations that have included Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition (MassBike), the Regional Environmental Council and Worcester Earn-A-Bike. Plus, they give back to the environment through ways like giving spent grains to local farms and offsetting its electrical usage with the purchase of Class 1 RECs from wind power generated in Massachusetts.

Odell Brewing Company

Oh come on, you didn’t think I’d talk American craft breweries and not mention a Colorado brewery did you? And here at Odell Brewing Company in Fort Collins, Colorado, both philanthropy and sustainability runs deep. I love how it's described on Odell's website, that "A portion of all the beer we brew is dedicated to supporting the communities that give us our success." This includes focusing on three areas of giving: Humanitarian (at-risk children, single-parent families, and the elderly), environmental, and educational organizations. They even have a volunteer group on Facebook!

Additionally, Odell Brewing Company shares on its website about the brewery’s current energy/water usage and sustainability practices. This includes things like a goal to be "zero-landfill" by 2020 (currently at 87% of goal), 11,000 square feet of solar panels, audits of the brewery's electricity and water usage, and an electric vehicle charging station that is free for public use.