June 22, 2011

What Ales You: Brewers bring out their best to benefit Maine charities

By Tom Atwell tatwell@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

Victoria Mansion will be uncasking the latest batch of Allagash Brewing Co.'s Victoria Ale at a party from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday. The event costs $15 to $25.

Victoria Ale, wonderfully complex and brewed with lots of white wine grapes -- usually chardonnay, but vidal blanc in 2010 -- is brewed every year, with $1 from the sale of every bottle going to the Portland landmark.

Tom Johnson, director of the mansion, said that amounted to about $10,000 last year, an amount worth celebrating. So celebrate they will, with music from The Pete Kilpatrick Band and a light supper catered by the Blue Elephant in Saco.

"We have a series of beers called the Tribute Series," said Deedee Germain, communications and marketing director at Allagash. "In that series, we currently have four beers -- Victor, Victoria, Fluxus, which we do every July, and Hugh Malone."

Victor is brewed with red wine grapes; sales benefit the St. Lawrence Arts Center in Portland. Fluxus is brewed with a different recipe every year, and helps fund a scholarship for pediatric nurses at the Barbara Bush Children's Hospital at Maine Medical Center. Hugh Malone uses Maine barley and assists the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association.

In addition, Germain said, Allagash also brews single-batch beers occasionally that benefit nonprofit groups.

"We give $1 for every bottle sold," Germain said, "and although we do keg some of the beer, we break the kegs down to bottles and donate for those as well. We sell every drop of everything we make, so we donate based on how much is packed."

ALLAGASH IS NOT the only local brewery that brews beers to benefit worthy causes. I contacted a number of local breweries about their charity work.

David Geary said D.L. Geary Brewing Co. has a promotion in cooperation with a local supermarket chain in which money for every 12-pack sold goes to the Maine Children's Cancer Program.

"The chain has really gotten behind it with displays and signs, and it is good for all of us," Geary said.

The company also gives a scholarship every year to a student at the Maine College of Art who wins the contest for the design of its Summer Ale packaging.

Geary also has a deal with another chain that sends money to the Good Shepherd Food Bank.

"It is amazing how many meals you can provide there with a modest amount of money," he said. "It's all part of being a good citizen in the community."

Thomas Wilson, marketing director at Gritty McDuff's in Portland, has a list of charities the company supports. While we talked, a Gritty's team of 70 members was getting ready to do the Trek Across Maine for the Maine Lung Association.

Gritty's Auburn location is a partner for the Dempsey Challenge -- Maine native and actor Patrick Dempsey's bicycle ride benefiting the Center for Cancer Hope and Healing at Central Maine Medical Center -- with $1 for every pint of certain beers going to the fund.

Other charity efforts involve Big Brothers Big Sisters, Good Shepherd, Marine Animal Rescue in Biddeford, the Morrison Developmental Center in Scarborough, local sports teams and other groups.

Sebago Brewing Co. in Gorham has done Brewing for a Cause for the past couple of years, benefiting the Trek Across Maine and creating Trekker Ale.

"And a portion of the sales of our Runabout Red Ale ($1 per case) goes to benefit the Maine Parkinson Society year-round," said Elise Loschiavo, marketing director. "Elsie, the woman pictured on the label, is a Maine schoolteacher and friend of Sebago who is suffering from Parkinson's."

David Kleban said Maine Beer Co. is a member of 1% for the Planet, a group supporting environmental causes. One percent of all sales in that group, which had Patagonia as one of its founders, goes to nonprofits.

"The groups we have chosen are the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, because I have a soft spot for gorillas, and Allied Whale of the College of the Atlantic, which provides money for students and others to do research," Kleban said.

"Any small business can do this. All they have to do is charge 1 percent more for their product and then give it away."

Jon Cadoux of Peak Organic Brewing Co. emailed to say, "Our Maple Oat Ale is in support of Chefs Collaborative. Check it out at chefscollaborative.org."

Tami Kennedy of Shipyard said a portion of the sales of Shipyard Light Beer goes to the American Lighthouse Foundation.

And don't go away thinking that just because I didn't mention a company here that they don't give money to charity. I couldn't get in touch with all of them.

Staff Writer Tom Atwell can be contacted at 791-6362 or at:

tatwell@pressherald.com

 

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