Lawrence brewery makes special beer to help raise money for California wildfire victims

photo by: Associated Press

Residences leveled by the Camp Fire line a cul-de-sac in Paradise, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Free State Brewing Company is putting beer to especially good use this month.

The downtown Lawrence brewery and restaurant, 636 Massachusetts St., will put a new beer on tap to help people affected by the Camp Fire in Butte County, Calif. The November wildfire burned more than 153,000 acres and destroyed about 14,000 homes, according to As of Wednesday, 86 people had died, making it the deadliest wildfire in California history.

To help the area recover from the devastation, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company — which is based in the Butte County city of Chico, Calif. — began the Camp Fire Relief Fund in November, according to a news release. Sierra Nevada made an initial pledge of $100,000, but asked breweries across the country to help it grow by selling a special beer.

Geoff Deman, head brewer at Free State, said the Lawrence brewery would be one of the 1,400 breweries across the country to offer Sierra Nevada’s Resilience Butte County Proud IPA to its customers. Sierra Nevada shared the recipe for the strong, citrus-flavored beer so that breweries could make it locally, he said.

The beer will be on tap beginning Friday until it runs out, which will likely be about two to three weeks, Deman said. All proceeds from the sale of the beer will benefit the relief fund, which will donate money to organizations aiming to rebuild the Butte County community.

“Everybody in craft brewing has a relationship with Sierra Nevada in some way,” Deman said, noting that the California brewery is a pioneer in the craft beer industry. “When (Sierra Nevada) made the call out to breweries around the country to come forward to help out the situation, we saw an overwhelming response.”

Deman said Free State was happy to join the cause because it would help a great number of people in need. Free State has some understanding of the situation because it was the victim of an electrical fire in 2008 that set the brewery back nine months.

“And that’s just a business,” he said. “Putting ourselves in the shoes of people who have been made homeless or displaced because of the fire, it’s pretty sad.”

Deman said six breweries in Kansas and several others in the Kansas City, Mo., area were participating in the project.

“There is a strong sense of community among craft brewers,” he said.


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