♫ Carolyn Wonderland, Peace Meal
🍺 Try The Faith Solidarity Pale Ale
Words & photos: Vincent Abbate
Not until very recently, only in the past couple of weeks actually, did I realize that there is an international beer community. You often feel a communal spirit in musical circles, as I’ve touched on recently. That there are dedicated beer drinkers all over the world goes without saying. But that brewers will pull together like a family in times of crisis – this is news to me.
If you’ve not stumbled across it on social media: There is a movement going on called #BrewForUkraine. It arose swiftly in the days after Russian forces invaded their neighbors to the west, spearheaded by the Pravda Brewery, an award-winning craft brewer in the Ukrainian city of Lviv. The company first made news when it converted its beer-making operations to the production of Molotov cocktails for local residents. The primitive weapons, they hoped, would help “kick the cockroaches out of our land.”
As Lviv has seen countless thousands pass through on their way out of the country, the brewery’s concern quickly turned to relief efforts. Pravda put out an open call to brewers worldwide to create special Brew For Ukraine beers and donate proceeds to appropriate aid organizations. Dozens have responded in Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zeeland and North and South America.
The small grei.beer brewery in southwestern Germany has joined those ranks and is now brewing its Try The Faith Solidarity Pale Ale for the cause. It’s a keeper.
Several weeks ago, before this whole mess started, I had planned to mark International Womens Day by spotlighting one of Austin’s finest, Carolyn Wonderland and her 2011 release Peace Meal. Better late than never.
Let’s let the three-time Austin Music Award winner get things rolling by asking the timeless musical question: “What Good Can Drinkin’ Do.”
In the spirit of community I’m going to forego my usual private tasting and share how my neighbors reacted to grei.beer’s Solidarity Pale Ale.
You see, as soon as I heard about the Brew For Ukraine movement, I was all in. I ordered a twelve-pack from grei.beer’s online shop. It arrived a few days later. Rather than down all that delicious beer myself, I posted a message in my apartment house’s WhatsApp group suggesting we meet for a drink the following Sunday in our shared back garden. The afternoon was chillier than expected, still, warm vibes prevailed.
Serving a pale ale at one of our gatherings was risky. As I’ve mentioned before, the standard offering in the city of Cologne is Kölsch. Pretty much everyone drinks this light, crisp, refreshing native beer. At a barbecue, that would be straight from the bottle. Proof that I have become a beer nerd? I ordered a set of twelve beer glasses for the occasion, because I couldn’t imagine drinking a pale ale from the bottle. Also, I wanted them to enjoy it.
So I set up a row of glasses, cracked the first bottle and poured. The aromas that hit me while pouring … oh yeah. I knew right there I was going to like this one.
I like the way grei.beer, on its website, tells you exactly where it sources its ingredients. The hops come from a grower in Bavaria’s renowned Hallertau region. Special malts come from a pair of British suppliers, Crisp and Fawcetts. The beers grei produces are unfiltered and unpasteurized. And if the brewery’s pale ale is any measure, I am sold. It’s bold and fruity and beautiful to behold.
But what did my neighbors think?
One young man, possibly the youngest in our group, already knew the best addresses for craft beer in the city center, so I wasn’t worried about him. “You’re gonna like this!” I told him. Many in our tight, bundled-up circle made no explicit comment, but didn’t hesitate to ask for more, which I interpret as a thumbs up. Most interesting were the widely varying reactions of a couple who live one floor above me. The woman, a diehard Kölsch drinker, took a sip of the pale ale and set the glass back down. “Zu herb,” she said, grimacing, meaning it was too bitter or tangy for her. Meanwhile, a few feet away, her husband’s face lit up as if he’d never tasted a beer quite as delicious as this one.
Obviously, I’m siding with him.
The names of the Brew For Ukraine beers are a riot.
Some are straightforward, like Blue & Yellow (Moonshot Brewing), We Stand With Ukraine (Green Monster Brewery), IPA For Peace (Common Space Brewing) or Make Beer Not War (Rightersbier). Hops Will Triumph Over Evil (Jet-A Brewing) has a nice ring to it. Putin Is A Pile Of Manure (The Brewery At Maple Brew Farm) is probably the most polite reference to Russia’s head of state. Putin Is A Dick (IVO Brewery Ltd) gets right to the point. The End Of The Innocence (Stannary Brewing Company) takes a more philosophical approach.
Whichever one you choose – try a great beer and raise money for a good cause at the same time. What have you got to lose?
Click on the logo below to visit the Brew For Ukraine website.
Or check out this list of participating beers and breweries compiled by Untappd.
I’m raising a glass right now as we close out this Listening Party with the wonderful “Golden Stairs.” Go down shining.
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The Who Is Blues Listening Party is powered by Bierlager, one of Germany’s finest addresses for premium craft beer.