Water is an element of contradictions. It is essential for life—and beer—but it quickly becomes a deadly force when unchecked and overwhelming. Many on the Colorado Front Range learned this firsthand in September as a 100-year flood rampaged through the region’s steep mountain canyons and broad swaths of high prairie.
The area is home to about 35 breweries, not including Denver. Remarkably, none have reported significant damage from the flooding. But that doesn’t mean they weren’t rocked by the disaster’s impact, and many of their employees found themselves evacuated from homes. Some won’t even have homes when roads are rebuilt and they return.
It might be surprising that most of the breweries were unscathed, but their swift, generous response to the tragedy was characteristic of a trade that is more community than industry.
Coincidentally, the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) kicked off exactly one month after the flooding began. Several brewers brought their charitable efforts to the festival to raise awareness and support for flooding victims.
Donations at the Entrance
The GABF had a Flood Relief Donation Area near the ticket holder entrance along the wall between the tasting glasses and the WAHL booth. Oskar Blues Brewing Company and Left Hand Brewing Co.‘s charitable organizations were there at the front of the hall, collecting donations, raffling 2014 GABF tickets and selling merchandise. All of the proceeds went towards flood relief efforts.
Oskar Blues Can’d Aid
In September of 2013, Oskar Blues founder Dale Katechis created the Oskar Blues CAN’d Aid Foundation. “It’s been a 15 year mission for me to organize a way to give back to the communities that helped build our businesses,” Katechis said. The 501(c)(3) foundation will have a booth at the GABF entrance. With breweries in both Lyons and Longmont, Oskar Blues has seen some of the worst of the flood’s destruction. Their Lyons facility is not operational due to the town’s contaminated water, but they were able to rescue the beer that was in the tanks to continue fermentation at the Longmont facility.
Left Hand Brewing Foundation
Fellow Longmont brewer Left Hand Brewing Co. had several feet of water in their brewhouse, but fortunately reported no significant damage. They founded the Left Hand Brewing Foundation (LHBF) in May, “To brew a stronger community where we work, live and play. The LHBF affords Left Hand Brewing, in partnership with the Longmont Community Foundation, the opportunity to respond quickly and efficiently, with a directed act of support, for issues and emergencies important to the Longmont community and beyond.”