Rock On lager helps musicians after COVID shutdown


More than two dozen breweries across the United States have made a special beer to benefit musicians and other players in the music industry, many of whom have seen their livelihoods shattered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Crosby Hops of Woodburn, Oregon, donates all profits from the hops sold to make Rock On Lager Beer to the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, a charity founded in 1993 to help musicians in need. And the breweries involved are also encouraged to donate to a COVID-19 Sweet Relief fund established in March 2020 to help musicians and workers in the music industry.

Most breweries have created a cool and refreshing lager of around 5% BAC with a hoppy whiff on the nose with hints of bread, honey and melon or citrus. Even though there was a basic recipe, some brewers went a bit heavier on the hops to increase its piney character.

After the start of COVID, most live music events have been on hiatus for over a year, and many concerts and festivals continue to be canceled or curtailed. In 2020 alone, Pollstar estimated the economic impact of shutting down live music at over $ 30 billion.

“It’s still an absolute state of emergency in our industry,” said Aric Steinberg, executive vice president of development and artist relations at Sweet Relief. “It has a long tail.”

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Since Silver City Brewery in Bremerton, Washington, made the first batches of Rock On lager in July, other versions have been brewed across the country – from Rhode Island (Hive Beer) to Alabama (Goat Island Craft Brewing) to Utah (Level Crossing Brewing) and California (Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.).

“We loved the idea of ​​helping musicians and their teams during a very difficult time in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mark Medura, Founder and CEO of Level Crossing. The South Salt Lake City Brewery donates $ 1 per pint to the Salt Lake Academy of Music, a local non-profit organization that provides instruction and instruments for children and adults.

A punk kick off at charity beer

Crosby Hops Farm CEO Blake Crosby took an interest in making a collaborative beer after learning that Silver City Brewery had teamed up with the punk band from Bremerton, Wash., MxPx, on a beer called Secret Weapon for the 25th. anniversary of the group in 2017.

The hop supplier, which supplies hops to thousands of breweries across the United States, wanted to collaborate on a project to help the live music community. “I put myself in the position of someone on the road and all of a sudden the income completely stops and what you would be doing. It hit me,” said Crosby Hops Marketing Director Zac Schroerlucke, who loves Blake Crosby also plays music.

The MxPx group recommended Sweet Relief and Schroerlucke found himself talking to Steinberg. Schroerlucke believed the concept of the charity could be adopted by other breweries, in the same way that at least 1,500 breweries have followed Sierra Nevada Brewing’s lead and made Resilience Butte County Proud IPA at benefit those affected by the campfire at the end of 2018.

MxPx drummer Yuri Ruley joined the Silver City brewers and the Crosby Hops team to make the beer, which used Crosby’s Chinook and Sterling hops. “Our goal was to create a lofty rock beer – something light and crushable,” said Daniel Frantz, Marketing Director of Silver City, who sold all of their Rock On Crafted Lager but made their recipe available to others. ‘other breweries.

“The idea was to make a craft lager beer, something you could drink at a concert,” Schroerlucke said. But breweries were encouraged to change the recipe if they wished – and to involve local musicians in the project. “I think it got people to be really excited about it,” he said.

Rock On Beers Across the United States

According to the brewery, Rock On is available in taprooms and in cans (some made 12-ounce cans, others 16-ounce cans). At Goat Island Brewing in Cullman, Alabama, two local groups (Round 2 and Avenue G) have helped make the beer, which is available now and next month on-site and at area retailers. Local disc jockey Steve Hathaway (DJ Kudlz), who had created a streaming service for musicians during the pandemic, helped Virginia Beer Co. in Williamsburg, Va., With his Rock On lager, released over the weekend. of Labor Day.

Austin (Texas) Beerworks tweaked the recipe slightly with help from Kyle Shutt, guitarist for hard rock band The Sword, and beer is currently available in their bar.

The origin of Sweet Relief

Sweet Relief was born out of the 1993 release of “Sweet Relief: A Benefit for Victoria Williams”, an album of songs by the singer-songwriter performed by musician friends such as Pearl Jam, Lucinda Williams and Lou Reed. They made the album to raise money to help pay for Victoria Williams’ medical care after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Subsequently, she launched the Sweet Relief Fund for All Musicians with the product.

The Rock On Lager project has raised $ 20,000 so far for Sweet Relief’s COVID fund. Beyond the money, the initiative “has been a great driver of awareness,” said Steinberg. “We are trying to pay for stuff for people who are in an emergency crisis.”

Crosby Hops and the Breweries hope to make beer an annual offering. The pairing makes sense as the music plays in most of the valve rooms and is played in the brewhouse when it is time to clean the tanks and equipment. “I’ve never met anyone in the beer industry who said, ‘I don’t like live music,’” said Schroerlucke.

Frantz from Level Crossing is on board. “We would absolutely love to capitalize on the success of the Rock On initiative next year, especially as concerts keep coming back,” he said.

Participating Rock On Breweries

  • Austin Beerworks – Austin, Texas
  • Brokerage Brewing – West Lafayette, Indiana
  • Camp Colvos Brewery – Vashon, Washington
  • Creuset Brewing Co. – Everett, Washington
  • Fifth Hammer Brewing Co. – Long Island, New York
  • Fort George Brewery – Astoria, Oregon
  • Virginia Beer Company – Williamsburg, Virginia
  • First Magnitude Brewing Co. – Gainesville, Florida
  • Goat Island Craft Brewery – Cullman, Alabama
  • Goose Island Beer Company – Chicago, Illinois
  • Great Notion Brewery – Portland, Oregon
  • Beehive Beer – Westerly, Rhode Island
  • Brewing Initiative – Redmond, Oregon
  • Kulshan Brewing Co. – Bellingham, Washington
  • Laguna Beach Brewery – Laguna Beach, California
  • Level Crossings Brewing – South Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Mechanical Brewing Co. – Cherry Hill, New Jersey
  • Navigation Brewing – Lowell, Massachusetts
  • One Trick Pony Brewery – Lansing, Illinois
  • Peoria Craft Brewery – Peoria, Arizona
  • Rainy Daze Brewing Co. – Poulsbo, Washington
  • Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. – Chico, CA
  • Silver City Brewery – Bremerton, Washington
  • Ska Brewery – Durango, Colorado
  • Starr Brothers Brewing Co. – Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Stormcloud Brewing Co. – Frankfort, Michigan
  • Top Rung Brewing Co. – Lacey, Washington
  • Urban Family Brewing Co. – Seattle, Washington
  • Old Coast Ales – St. Augustine, Florida

Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.

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