Philanthropic Brewing Comes to Northeast Ohio

By Amanda Briggs de Lavini

While many breweries donate some portion of their profits to charitable causes, there are a few that take the concept to the next level and base the entire operation on benevolent brewing.

The philanthropic brewing scene can trace its origins to the West Coast.  Examples include the Brewability Lab in Denver, which provides employment for adults with developmental disabilities, or Ex Novo in Portland, which sends its profits to global charities.

Now barstool philanthropy has made its way to Ohio, where two breweries are serving up good Karma with every beer.

Clubhouse Brewing Company in Warren, Ohio, looks to give back to the veteran population through donations, outreach and craft beer. Founder Zach Dean, a West Point graduate, served in the U.S. Army but had his military career cut short by an injury. He returned to school for his MBA and set out to open a brewery, but with added intentions of giving back to returning soldiers.

“Part of what I want to focus on isn’t just giving money to veterans’ charities ― I want to get them involved and give them a purpose,” Dean explains. He hopes to provide veterans with training in brewery equipment and operations so that they can find meaningful employment after deployment.

Clubhouse, which opened in November of 2017, is already months ahead of its original business timeline and was able to make a donation to Veteran’s Outreach, an organization that provides basic life skills to veterans.

“We’re very veteran-driven,” Dean says. “A portion of all our sales goes to veterans’ charities, and we want to try and hire veterans exclusively.  We want to provide meaningful employment in an understanding environment.

“Down the line, I’d like to expand this into training vets for the beer industry and provide mentoring. Breweries need workers who know how to do maintenance, logistical stuff, and we can help by providing trained workers to the brewing industry.”

Clubhouse has other ways to honor and thank veterans. Maps of the Middle East and other countries line a wall where pins can be placed to mark a customer’s deployment location. Patrons can also pre-pay for a beer to be given to a military member or to first-responder personnel. The beer itself also tastes great: Clubhouse’s “Deuces are Wild” Doppelbock recipe won Best in Show at the Geauga County Fair.

Meanwhile, in Cleveland, Ironborne Brew Works is gearing up to open its doors. Founder Jeremy Langham has been working hard to bring his “brewing for good” organization to fruition.  Langham’s brewery idea won The Cleveland Leadership Center’s‎ “Accelerate 2018: Citizens Make Change” contest and $5,000 in February. He also was featured on a discussion panel following Cleveland International Film Festival’s airing of the documentary “Brewmaster” alongside Dan Conway of Great Lakes Brewing Company and Renée DeLuca of New Albion Brewing Company.

Langham hopes his brewery will provide a meeting space for Cleveland residents and a pathway for them to donate to causes they care about simply by buying a craft beer of their choice. The model would select certain charitable organizations to be recipients of 10 percent of each purchase at Ironborne. Patrons can select which organization that will benefit from their purchase. While the brewery awaits final approvals, its brewers, Cara Baker and Jim Jadwisiak, continue to work on flagship beer recipes while Langham finalizes the location.

As more breweries with philanthropic intentions make their way across the country, Ohio is in a position to lead the (six) pack in brewing for good.

Photo courtesy of Clubhouse Brewing Company.

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