by Zane Foley
One of the main reasons we’re proud of being members of the craft beer community, is the amount of people, breweries, and their initiatives committed to making positive change in the world. Here, at Beer is for Everyone, there’s never too many stories or ways to highlight these amazing people on a mission to help others.
That is precisely why we wrote this article in the month of May, a month dedicated to neurological diseases, garnering the badges of Mental Health Awareness Month, Stroke Awareness Month, ALS Awareness Month, highlighting other diseases like Alzheimer’s, brain tumors, and lifelong neurological disorders that people struggle with everyday.
It’s in honor of these calls to awareness that we’re highlighting the people, organizations, and breweries dedicated to supporting people living with neurological diseases. It is also our hope to promote mental health and remind everyone, when deciding which craft beer to buy, we always have a way to support others in a positive and meaningful way.
After all, Beer is for Everyone, so let’s do our best to help everyone we can by spreading awareness with mindful brewing.
“Ales for ALS” Raises Millions in Research
In 1992, President George H.W. Bush signed into proclamation to recognize May as National Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Awareness Month, and it has been annually observed since to support those people and families affected by ALS. Even though the disease was identified by French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot in 1869, the disease wouldn’t become a household name until it ended the career of baseball superstar, Lou Gehrig. Hence, the moniker Lou Gehrig’s disease.
ALS is a progressive neurological disease that damages the brain, spinal cord, and nerve cells ultimately leading the brain to lose its motor neurons and cease bodily control and operations. Some people suffer worse and deteriorate faster than others and no one is really sure why. Sadly, each year more than 6,000 Americans are diagnosed with ALS, and there is currently no cure.
Now that we got the bad news out of the way, let’s highlight the good.
In 2013, what is known as a ‘hop farming family’ created Ales for ALS, raising funds and awareness for ALS with participating breweries throughout the United States. According to their website, to date Ales for ALS has raised over $3,500,000 for ALS research at the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALSTDI). They have done so with participating breweries from 38 states, crafting delicious and unique beers to help support this great cause.
The program works by a special relationship between the hop family, breweries, and the ALSTDI. Once accepted into Ales for ALS, brewers will receive a requested amount of the unique hop blend created and donated by Loftus Ranches and YCH Hops. This uniquely blended hops has a 20% Citra Brand HBC 94, a 15% Loral blend, a 30% HBC 630, 10% Ahtanum, 5% Ekuanot, and a 20% HBC 586 hop infusion.
It might sound like rocket science, (don’t worry we speak brewer), essentially this experimental hop variety creates a jointed aroma distinctly American, with peaks of spice with floral and citrus blends. For a more detailed breakdown of the 2022 Ales for ALS Hop Blend, you can view the full Alpha, Beta, CO-H and Total Oil breakdown.
Amazingly enough, participating brewers are given this unique hop blend at no cost. What they ask in return is that with each pint of beer sold, the participating breweries are asked to donate $1 to the ALSTDI. And if our calculations are correct, since 2013, over 3.5 million pints have been sold across the U.S.
While you can view a complete list of the participating breweries here, we’re going to list a few facts that stand out to us. You can also view the link and search for a brewery by state and zip code to find the closest participating brewery near you.
States like California have over 30 participating breweries with several Stone Brewing World locations participating alone. From Huntington Beach to San Francisco and El Segundo to Grass Valley; California leads the way in participating breweries. Washington State and Massachusetts are closets behind with 18 for Washington and 12 for Massachusetts.
It should be noted here that earlier this year in 2022, a patient with ALS who was left completely paralyzed and unable to communicate, was given a brain implant to allow him to ‘speak’ for the first time in months. The 36-year old, who has asked to remain anonymous, was able to compose sentences at a rate of one character per minute using neurofeedback communication.
This person has become one of the first human beings to achieve being able to communicate with another person using nothing but his mind– and what was his first message? He asked for a beer. The details of the research and findings are published in the medical journal, Nature Communications. But it’s safe to say this patient is one of us.
Craft Beer Community Aims to End Mental Health Stigma with “Things We Don’t Say IPA”
You might not associate craft beer with mental health other than perhaps the fact enjoying craft beer has impacted your own mental health – alleviating stress, promoting security in social settings, and reveling in the taste of something you enjoy.
That being said, just like most industries in the world, we all can benefit from a more impactful approach to supporting mental health. As we see in this article, our industry has begun usher in a movement to include mental health awareness with a recipe for positive impacts on our mental health.
That is precisely what the Things We Don’t Say movement is hoping to accomplish. To not only change the stigmas surrounding mental health but galvanize an active force in craft beer to do so.
The idea was conceived by Eagle Park Brewing, Malteurop Malting Co, Hollingbery & Son Hop Co, and Hope For The Day, who endeavor through the Things We Don’t Say IPA to create a collective in the craft beer community to smash the stigmas surrounding mental health. While the first three brands are from the craft beer industry, Hope For The Day is a non-profit movement empowering the mental health conversation for proactive suicide prevention and the broader education of mental health. Their is motto: “It’s okay to not be okay.” And we agree.
The Things We Don’t Say IPA project encourages people to talk about their mental health experience, including their feelings, emotional battles, both positive and negative to demonstrate the importance of asking for help through the willingness to talk. The idea is a call to empower breweries and their people around the globe to use their platform to stand up for those who might be suffering from mental health issues in silence. Mental health issues come in many forms, anxiety and depression might be the most common, but many exist and get worse as a byproduct of staying silent and not seeking help.
The Things We Don’t Say IPA gets its name from the Hope For The Day’s flagship mental health education program and consists of a 6% IPA recipe from Eagle Park Brewing in Milwaukee, WI. It was released in May 2021, Mental Health Awareness Month as you all know by now. The craft beer by the numbers of the Things We Don’t Say IPA are quite impressive.
Over 204 breweries participated, with 5 countries represented and 30 U.S. states and 15 veteran-owned breweries. Funds through an online donation and resource distribution from mental health education programs raised over $85,000 in 2021 alone. With over $25,000 in physical and digital resources distributed by participating breweries, hundreds of people were educated through education sessions provided by Hope For The Day foundation.
Participating breweries receive an editable label to place on their craft beer, labeling their beer as a craft beer for mental health and pointing the way for people to be educated or receive physical and digital resources. Mental Health affects everyone; Beer is for Everyone. We’re using our platform to promote the Things We Don’t Say IPA and ALES FOR ALS, and we couldn’t be more proud to be members of the craft beer mental health movement. If we’re able to change the stigmas surrounding mental health, we can save lives.
Do you know someone struggling with mental health? Here are some resources for you and your loved ones. It’s okay to not be okay. We just have to talk about it.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration:1-800-662-HELP (4357)
National Institute of Mental Health: Text “HELLO” to 741741
Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) Press 1 or text to 838255