Allagash estimated its 10-cent per barrel pledge to Sebago Clean Waters will total $10,000 this year. Photo by Carla Jean Lauter

Breweries create jobs, meeting spaces and recreation in the neighborhoods in which they reside, but many breweries go further in their impacts to their community by partnering with nonprofit organizations. They host fundraisers, donate profits, or pledge to meet environmental goals. Some even make it a core part of their mission – like Maine Beer Co.’s commitment to “do what’s right” by donating 1 percent of its sales (rather than profits) to a rotating list of environmental nonprofit organizations.

In late October, two breweries put one crucial beer ingredient into the spotlight: water. Allagash Brewing Co. pledged to protect clean water by donating 10 cents from every barrel of beer brewed to Sebago Clean Waters, a group whose mission is to protect and preserve the quality of water in Sebago Lake. Not only is Sebago Lake the source of drinking water for many Maine residents, it is also the source of water used to create Maine beer.

“We rely on clean water,” said Allagash’s social media post announcing the pledge, “for recreation, for drinking, for living and brewing here in Maine.” Allagash estimates that its pledge will total approximately $10,000 in 2019.

Rising Tide matched Allagash’s pledge to donate 10 cents of each barrel of beer to protect the water that they use to make it. Photo by Carla Jean Lauter

Upon seeing the announcement from Allagash, another local brewer decided to match the pledge. In a video, Nathan Sanborn, co-owner of Rising Tide Brewing Co., announced it would make the same 10 cent per barrel commitment. Already a member of the Maine Brewshed Alliance that protects Maine’s waterways, Rising Tide affirmed its support for Maine’s natural resources.

“On Monday, our friends at Allagash made a bold commitment to supporting clean water in the state of Maine by pledging to donate 10 cents per barrel of beer produced to Sebago Clean Waters. As a member of the Maine Brewshed Alliance, Rising Tide is proud to match that support,” said Sanborn. “Clean water is crucial to every one of us, and in Greater Portland, we’re blessed with some of the cleanest water in the world.”

While a partnership to protect local natural resources makes a lot of sense, another brewery is going beyond state – the continent, even – to make an impact. Side By Each Brewery in Auburn is planning a fundraiser on Nov. 21 to support an organization dedicated to improving the lives of women and children in Zambia.

WISE Zambia, whose board president lives in Auburn, is a nonprofit organization that empowers and creates economic independence for vulnerable women and children in Zambia through education, work and agriculture. WISE, which stands for Women’s Initiatives that Strengthen and Empower, gives high school scholarships for at-risk, vulnerable students in remote villages and funds gaps left by government assistance when they graduate and make it to college. WISE also runs a 100-acre farm north of Kaoma, Zambia, for teaching beneficial farming practices and a Women’s Center where vocational training in tailoring and sewing is offered to displaced women.

In support of WISE Zambia’s mission, Side By Each is planning to host Under African Skies, a benefit that will include storytelling, musical performances and a silent auction that will feature Zambian crafts, paintings and donated goods.

Director Maggie Indopu in the maize crop at the WISE Zambia farm. Photo courtesy of WISE Zambia

Side By Each owner and brewer Matt Johannes says that giving back has long been one of the brewery’s core values. “We usually keep it focused locally, but WISE Zambia is such a great program and really important to key people involved in the brewery that we wanted to help.”

For the event, Side By Each plans to create a special edition beer, also called Under African Skies. Ben Low, Side By Each partner, said the beer will be unique because of its ingredients.

“We had originally planned to brew a beer inspired by ancient brewing, when we got our hands on some Maine-grown and malted Egyptian barley,” said Low. As plans for the event progressed, the brewery decided to source the beer entirely from ingredients available in Africa.

“Under African Skies is a fun project, unlike anything we’ve brewed before,” added Low.

Pinky D’s Poutine Factory – the food truck that operates out of Side By Each’s tasting room – will also be creating special menu items for the event, featuring food items inspired by Zambian cuisine.

Joanne Bollinger, president of WISE Zambia, expressed her gratitude for the brewery’s support.

“We are so grateful to be partnering with Side By Each and looking forward to a great night. With increased awareness of WISE Zambia’s work, which in the end, benefits Africa and eventually the world, we hope that our Maine community will come to understand the value of WISE Zambia’s mission.”

Whether reaching the shores of Sebago Lake or remote communities in Africa, the beer that we make is making a difference across the globe. Keep your eyes and ears open for these efforts – and others – that are creating a better world, one pint glass at a time.

Carla Jean Lauter is a freelance beer writer and blogger who lives in Lisbon. Follow her beer adventures at:

Twitter: beerbabe

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