Hurricane Harvey is one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the country, but tragedy has a way of bringing out the best in people. Naturally that includes people that brew beer. Despite the fact that many Houston breweries’ staffs are amongst the hundreds of thousands displaced from their homes, it hasn’t stopped them from giving back to their communities.
Since 1994, Saint Arnold has been a pivotal player in the Texas beer scene and positive force in the Houston food and drink community. Credited as the first Texas craft brewery, philanthropy has been part of their DNA from day one. They regularly host benefits for causes like animal shelters and Multiple Sclerosis research, so there was no hesitation in rallying for those affected by the storm.
On Tuesday, Saint Arnold opened their doors to serve as a donation center, with 300 people contributing to 12 pallets worth of supplies that the brewery distributed throughout the city the following day. That truck was full of much-needed water, toilet paper, and clothes, as you can see.
Karbach Brewing Co. burst onto the scene in 2011 with favorites like the Weekend Warrior Pale Ale, Love Street Kolsch, and Hopadillo. The tasty beers quickly became staples on tap around the state. Many of the brewery's employees were displaced, so they’ve set up an internal fund to bridge the gap between insurance payments and the true amounts of property damage.
For the greater Houston community, Karbach has given $10k each to four charities, plus a percentage of each case sold. And lastly, they’re accepting household items like baby wipes and towels at the brewery all weekend – bring one and your first pint is free, a fun match made in a time of need.
Just west of Houston in Katy, the Barker Reservoir overflowed, leading to evacuation of nearby communities. No Label calls the suburb home, and they usually honor the area’s history of farming by brewing their 1st Street Ale with rice for a crisp finish. This week, they've managed to stay open largely in order to collect donations like blankets, pillows, air mattresses, pet crates, and more, with generous pours given in exchange for supplies. In addition, they’ve delivered cases of bottled water to the National Guard.
Located 45 miles North of Houston in Conroe, TX, B-52’s six acre sanctuary of beer has become a destination for their 20 taps, ranging from sours refermented with fruit in oak barrels to a sessionable dry-hopped Wheat IPA. Even though they’re fairly removed from Houston proper, Conroe has still seen horrible flooding and evacuations. Thankfully the entire staff is safe, and they’re wasting no time turning the brewery into a donation center. Proceeds from this weekend’s sales will also be donated to a hurricane relief fund.
Brash Brewing Company has an attitude as big as Texas and have approached the tragedy with their signature sense of humor (check their Facebook for memes about stocking up on purple drank and controversial preacher Joel Osteen sailing his yacht through flood waters). But when it comes to giving back they’re not joking around, with proceeds from upcoming live music benefits going towards towards hurricane relief. And for good measure they’re rewarding heroic Houstonians like Mattress Mack with free beer for life.
Although it’s natural for hometown brands to step up to contribute, breweries from across the country are also making efforts to give back.
Anheuser-Busch (Karbach’s parent company, and also maker of just a few other beers) contributed five truckloads of drinking water, which amounts to 255,000 cans. Oskar Blues, who founded the Can’d Aid Foundation to aid in Colorado flood relief in 2013, halted the beer lines on Tuesday in order to produce 88,000 cans of water en route to needy Texans. Freetail in San Antonio doesn’t have quite the same production capabilities, but they’re still helping their neighbors to the East by hosting Beers Against Harvey, a fundraiser where tips, profits, and cases of water will all be delivered to Houston.
Many of Houston’s other favorite breweries also have benefits and relief efforts in the works, but at time of publication, so many of them are still struggling to deal with dangerous conditions. Right now pouring pints is the last thing on their minds, but once the flood waters subside, there’ll be no city in the world that deserves a beer quite as much as Houston.
Thanks to U.S. Army 1st Lt. Zachary West for the header photo.