By Anthony St. Clair
For the Oregon Beer Growler
When they had to make a choice, Eugene-based Ninkasi Brewing decided to go for all three. Three nonprofits — Conscious Alliance, Team River Runner and Women Who Code — are receiving donations through the brewery’s Beer Is Love program.
Support is tied to sales of Ninkasi’s Believer Double Red Ale — a beer brought back due to popular demand. Ninkasi will donate $1 per case and $7 per keg of Believer sold, and will apportion donations based on votes by the public at beerislove.com.
Originally released as a winter seasonal in 2006, Believer truly came from the heart. Its label design was based on a tattoo on the arm of Ninkasi co-founder Jamie Floyd, and that heart design also became part of the Beer Is Love logo when the program launched in 2012. Believer was a way for Ninkasi to offer “a thank you to the people who believed in them from the very beginning,” says Emilie Hartvig, who heads up Beer Is Love. Supporting nonprofits that promote women, equality, recreation, the environment and arts and music, to-date Beer Is Love has worked with more than 800 organizations throughout the 14 states where Ninkasi beers are available.
However, the time had come to raise the program’s profile on a national level. “Believer has always been a fan favorite. When it was no longer a part of our lineup, we got consistent messages from followers that they missed it,” says Hartvig. “We thought, why not combine Beer Is Love and beer sales? The first beer that came to mind was Believer. From the start, it was brewed to give back.”
As Hartvig and the Ninkasi team began exploring ways to combine Beer Is Love and a Believer comeback, they knew the nonprofit missions had to matter to the beer-buying public, too. “People have different interests and care about different things,” says Hartvig. “We wanted to make sure that when someone bought Believer, money was going back to a cause that means something to them.”
As Ninkasi narrowed down organizations, the team realized that three had something in common — equality — but each also addressed the program’s other core concerns. Women Who Code works on female empowerment and education. Conscious Alliance uses art and music to encourage people to give back through food and money. And Team River Runner helps veterans keep in touch with the environment through kayaking.
“It was a very long process,” says Hartvig. “We reached out to team members across different departments to get suggestions and then we researched, researched, researched. When we finally pitched the idea to the nonprofits, we felt very fortunate that the nonprofits were just as excited about this opportunity as we were.”
For Women Who Code, the partnership was a perfect fit. Dedicated to inspiring women worldwide to excel in technology careers, the organization has more than 80,000 members and a presence in 20 countries. "Every industry is part of the tech industry,” explains Jennifer Tacheff, vice president of partnerships and business development. “Ninkasi understands that, and they approached us because they recognize the importance of empowering women to succeed in this field. With the support of partners like Ninkasi, Women Who Code will continue to work towards the goal of increasing diversity in technology so that we can all benefit from a more broad and dynamic perspective and the innovations that will come from it."
Voting in the Believer Beer Is Love campaign opened in January and closes April 30. Through Ninkasi’s Facebook page and the Beer Is Love website, the three nonprofits have been making their case for why they deserve each Believer fan’s vote. The votes will be tallied in May. Each organization will receive a minimum of $5,000, with final donations divided based on the number of votes and total Believer sales: first place receives 50 percent, second receives 30 percent and third receives 20 percent.
Supports U.S. communities in crisis through emergency food relief, empowerment programs for youth in impoverished regions, and nutrition, exercise and gardening education for youth in economically isolated Native American reservations.
Team River Runner
Offers wounded and disabled veterans an opportunity to regain independence with an adventurous, adaptive paddle sports program.
Women Who Code
Inspires women to excel in technology careers and become technical leaders, executives, founders, VCs, board members and software engineers.
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.