Beer isn't generally regarded as a vehicle for change. That's kind of a shame. To me, one of beer's most laudable characteristics is its ability to inspire grandiose thinking. Without fail, finishing three or four beers infuses me with the kind of positive thinking and confidence needed to bellow out the chorus to "Sweet Caroline" (hopefully in the context of a pub sing-along, but not exclusively) or showcase my fledgling parkour skill set. It even makes me vomit in a more life-affirming way than usual. Is it really that much of a stretch in that state to believe you're capable of curing a disease?
I'd like to think it was exactly that kind of suds-laden optimism fueling the launch of Beer to the Rescue, a yearlong charity initiative that partners San Diego breweries with the Lupus Foundation of Southern California (LFSC). Lupus and beer may seem odd bedfellows, but the linking of pubs and public outreach is no coincidence. Beer to the Rescue is the brainchild of Brandon Hernández, a man known to many as the second most handsome beer journalist in San Diego but recognized by far fewer as someone who's been wrestling with the autoimmune disorder for years.
Beer to the Rescue has inspired more than 15 local breweries to commit their fermenters or taprooms to the cause—2015 will bear witness to more than two-dozen special events, many of which include a custom brew, all targeted at generating proceeds for LFSC outreach and counseling. A cure for lupus may have yet eluded the greatest biomedical researchers of our time, but I seriously doubt it stands a chance against our collective liver power.
Beer to the Rescue will officially kick things off on Saturday, Jan. 31, with the release of Benchmark Brewing Company's Hildegard IIIPA, a triple India pale ale that's been dosed with ridiculous quantities of Warrior and Citra hops. There may be no greater endorsement of this charity effort than the fact that it convinced brewer Matt Akin to set aside his obsession with 4-percent-ABV table beers to produce this hoppy monster.
February will follow that with two additional special releases. On Friday, Feb. 6, O'Brien's Pub will release the Nickel Double Dubbel Quadrupel (after 5 p.m.), likely along with some custom menu items. A mere 20 days later, Monkey Paw Pub & Brewery will offer a "LUP'd Up Singel (LUPUS)," a massively dry-hopped Belgian-style singel brewed with rhubarb. More details about these events, along with information on forthcoming ones, will be posted to Beer to the Rescue's Facebook page and twitter feed.
The beers slated to arrive later this year are no less noteworthy. The offerings are as varied as an imperial milk stout that's infused with orange, chocolate and chiles by Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits and a sour ale brewed with blueberries and fermented with wild yeast by Toolbox Brewing Company. These beers look so promising that even closeted lupus supporters may consider breaking ranks and contribute to the cause.
Whether you love beer, hate lupus or simply desire the confidence to attempt a three-wall bank shot in pool, look to Beer to the Rescue events this year to bring a little more purpose to your pint.