Beer is a good business. With more than 4,800 breweries in the United States. and an industry that totaled more than $100 billion in sales last year, if you brew good beer (or at least popular beer) then you can make money doing it.
What’s nice is that some breweries don’t just reward stockholders: they actually give back. Save the World Brewing Company in Marble Falls, Texas was founded on the principle that it’s good to share the wealth and put it to good use. Save the World brews 11 different beers in their small brewery outside Austin. The brewery was founded by two doctors who sought a way to use beer to help those in need. That’s right—beer can do good!
Dave Rathkamp, one of the founders, says that from the get-go he and his wife Quynh wanted their business to be different. “I know it’s a crazy idea, but what if businesses gave all their proceeds to charity instead of stock holders or overpaid executives?” He has a few ideas of what could happen: “poverty would be gone, starvation would be eliminated, curable diseases would be cured, and areas that have only known war would enjoy peace.”
The company’s mantra is simple: “we are a philanthropic brewery in which we are giving all our net profits away to help those who can’t help themselves.” They support a group of charities that focus on providing basic human needs like food, water, shelter, and clothing. They give internationally to Food for the Hungry, nationally to Meals on Wheels, and even locally by supporting Highland Lakes Habitat for Humanity.
I talked a few weeks ago about the role monasteries played in the development of beer. For centuries, monks have used the proceeds from their beer sales to invest in services that their local parishes provide. The folks at Save the World have a similar mission—just without the chanting and funny haircuts.
Even the names of their beers invoke the faith and charity within the brewery’s mission. Agnus Dei (the Lamb of God) is the name of their Wit beer. Their Belgian-style pale ale is called Humilus Filius (the Humble Son), and their Tripel is known as Princeps Pacis (Prince of Peace). Those are just a few of the names they use to show their beers are more than your typical Bud or Miller Lite.
Oh, and by the way, it’s great beer!
Save the World is not the only brewery that has a charitable nature. Another one of my favorites, Stone Brewing in California, also shares a portion of their profits with charity. In 2015, Stone Brewing donated nearly $345,000 in cash and provided more than $150,000 worth of beer to charities. Stone CEO and co-founder Greg Koch said, “As we embark on our 20th anniversary, it gives us great pleasure to say that we’ve donated more than $3 million dollars in cash and generously supported organizations through beer donations since 1996.”
The company has supported the YMCA and The Boys and Girls Club, museums and veteran organizations, and research to fight Lupus and ALS. Stone brews more beers than there is room in your fridge. From stouts to porters and saisons to IPAs, they’ve got it all—and it’s good. Their Cali-Belgique IPA is fantastic, although sometimes hard to find. The smoked porter is perfect with a juicy steak, and the Arrogant Bastard is exactly what you want when you’re looking for a beer that punches back.
Passionate people often have a passion for supporting causes close to their heart, and the craft beer industry is full of passionate people. According to the Brewers Association, in 2014, the craft brewing industry gave more than $71 million in charitable contributions. That works out to $20,664 per brewery and $3.25 per barrel sold.
Whether they be monks, former doctors, or just good-hearted beer brewers, there are plenty of people in the beer industry that care and want to share their success by helping others. So next time you grab a beer, know that your drink may do more than just bring a smile to your face. It could also be helping people put food on their tables and clothes on their back, or working toward curing a terrible disease. Cheers to that!