The worst wildfire in California’s history is bringing out the best in Oregon craft brewers.
Ken Grossman, founder of Sierra Nevada Brewing in Chico, California, wanted to help his friends, neighbors and employees affected by the catastrophe in Butte County. The Camp Fire — centered in the hills above the brewery — killed 86 people, displaced 14,000 families and destroyed the homes of 50 Sierra Nevada staffers.
Sierra Nevada created a recipe for a new brew called Resilience Butte County Proud IPA. The brewery then invited brewers from across the country to make the beer and donate the proceeds to the Camp Fire Relief Fund.
Central Oregon brewers were some of the first to sign on to this effort. Within weeks of learning about Resilience IPA, Chris Justema, a partner and president at Cascade Lakes Brewing in Bend, started asking fellow brewers about hosting a Resilience Beer Festival. “Everyone I talked to wanted to be involved,” said Justema.
“We put together a small team and pulled it off in about six weeks,” he said.
The first-ever Resilience IPA Beer Festival was held January 5 at the Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend with 18 local breweries pouring their version of the Resilience IPA beer. Despite the cold, windy, cloudy weather, the event was jammed with lines 10 to 15 people long for individual pours in the beer tent.
“We estimate our attendance at around 3,200 and our total donation at $40,000,” said Justema. “It was a community effort with everyone from Les Schwab to the four beer distributors, from Mt. Bachelor to Summit Bank, from individual volunteers to corporate sponsors eager to help. The venue, along with the sound system and technicians and portable restrooms were all donated.”
Sierra Nevada had a similarly generous response from many of its suppliers, who donated grain, malt and even hops — some from Crosby Hop Farm in Oregon — to the Resilience brew.
Ken Grossman was excited about the festival and flew to Bend to attend it. Initially, he was hoping for about 200 brewers to participate when he announced the challenge in November. Now, more than 1,500 breweries across the country are involved.
“Deschutes was recruited to help put on this event,” said Ali Burke, associate marketing manager at Deschutes Brewery. “Our president, Gary Fish, was very moved by what Sierra Nevada was doing nationally and our team was eager to help.” Deschutes brewed 10 barrels of its Resilience version with a bigger ABV and IBU, making it a DIPA, according to Ali. The brew was available at Deschutes’ pubs and tasting rooms for about a month.
Crux Fermentation Project, 10 Barrel and Visit Bend also served on the planning team. “The event was a huge success ... it brought the Central Oregon brewers and community together in a really awesome way,” said Jason Randles, branding and marketing manager at Crux. “I think we set a record for how quickly we were able to pull off a beer fest.”
A total of 18 breweries brought their versions of the Resilience IPA to the festival. “They all used the same basic Sierra Nevada recipe but many made their own adjustments,” said Justema. “Larry Sidor at Crux asked me if we brewed according to the recipe. He said they juiced it up a bit. They were all a little different, all had their own unique character.”
Participating breweries included:
Bend: 10 Barrel, Bend Brewing, Boneyard, Cascade Lakes, Good Life, Crux Fermentation Project, Deschutes, Immersion, Silver Moon, Spider City and Worthy
Redmond: Geist Beerworks, Porter Brewing, Wild Ride
Sisters: Three Creeks
Terrebonne: Mystic Roots
John Day: 1188 Brewing
Chico, CA: Sierra Nevada
Once the participating Central Oregon breweries run out of their Resilience IPA brews — probably in early February — the beer will be available in cans. Sierra Nevada started canning last month, releasing its brew in about 22 states. Check their website, sierranevada.com, for availability. Eventually, Grossman hopes to raise $15 million for the fire relief fund.
“We have a pretty cool beer community,” Justema said. “We would hope if we ever needed that kind of help here in Bend, we would get the same support.” •