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Six Colorado breweries banded together to brew East Troublesome pale ale, and 100% of proceeds go to wildfire relief

Bernie Ecclestone Vettel

When Col­orado bars, restau­rants and brew­eries shut down because of the coro­n­avirus this spring, Fras­er Riv­er Beer Co. was able to stay afloat with help from an emer­gency small busi­ness grant orga­nized by the Grand Foun­da­tion.

So when Bri­an Nichols, the brewery’s co-own­er and head brew­er, began to under­stand the extent of the dam­age caused by the East Trou­ble­some fire — and that the non­prof­it Grand Foun­da­tion was lead­ing the charge to help peo­ple affect­ed by the fire — he knew it was his turn to give back.

Fras­er Riv­er Beer Co. is one of six Grand Coun­ty brew­eries mak­ing its own ver­sion of the East Trou­ble­some pale ale, a ben­e­fit beer with 100 per­cent of sale pro­ceeds going to the Grand Foundation’s wild­fire relief efforts.

Though each brew­ery can put its own spin on the fin­ished prod­uct, all the beers are made with malts donat­ed by Root Shoot Malt­ing, hops donat­ed by Col­orado Hop Com­pa­ny and yeast donat­ed by Prop­a­gate Lab. Brew­ing is already under­way at sev­er­al brew­eries, with a plan to put the ben­e­fit beer on tap in the com­ing days.

This isn’t the first time dur­ing this chal­leng­ing year that Colorado’s brew­eries have come togeth­er to sup­port oth­ers in need. In May, more than 125 brew­eries across the state cre­at­ed their own ver­sion of the Col­orado Strong pale ale to help sup­port peo­ple affect­ed by the pan­dem­ic.

The East Trou­ble­some fire start­ed Oct. 14 and expand­ed rapid­ly, engulf­ing near­ly 200,000 acres and dam­ag­ing more than 350 homes and 200-plus out­build­ings and com­mer­cial struc­tures. The fire is now 60 per­cent con­tained and is not expect­ed to keep grow­ing.

As the fast-mov­ing wild­fire spread, res­i­dents of Grand Coun­ty quick­ly sprang into action to help their neigh­bors evac­u­ate and trans­port cat­tle, hors­es and oth­er ani­mals to safe­ty. The ben­e­fit beer is just an exten­sion of that atti­tude, said Michael Bischoff, head brew­er at The Peak Bistro and Brew­ery in Win­ter Park.

“We’re a small com­mu­ni­ty up here,” Bischoff said. “We pret­ty much all know one anoth­er; it’s kind of a tight-knit group. There’s a sense of fam­i­ly here. It was a no-brain­er for us, and when Bri­an and I reached out to the oth­er brew­eries, it was pret­ty much uni­form: ‘Yes, we def­i­nite­ly want to do this. We need to do this.’ ”

With Win­ter Park Resort delay­ing its open­ing day for ski­ing until Nov. 30, there’s ample room to drink a social­ly dis­tanced beer at the par­tic­i­pat­ing Grand Coun­ty brew­eries: Fras­er Riv­er Beer Co., Hide­away Park Brew­ing, Cam­ber Brew­ing, Grand Adven­ture Brew­ing, Big Trout Brew­ing Co. and The Peak Bistro and Brew­ery. (Just be sure to research and fol­low the county’s COVID-19 pre­cau­tions and indi­vid­ual busi­ness­es’ sta­tus. As of Nov. 20, some coun­ties have tem­porar­i­ly dis­con­tin­ued all indoor din­ing.)

Though details are still being final­ized, the beers will also like­ly be on tap at some Grand Coun­ty restau­rants in the near future. Four near­by dis­til­leries — Blue Val­ley Spir­its, Steam­boat Whiskey Com­pa­ny, Fras­er Val­ley Dis­till­ing and Idlewild — are also con­tribut­ing to the wild­fire relief efforts by donat­ing bot­tle sale pro­ceeds to the foun­da­tion (Root Shoot Malt­ing donat­ed corn to the dis­til­leries).

And if you can’t make the trip up to drink a beer, the brew­ers sug­gest donat­ing to the Grand Foundation’s wild­fire emer­gency fund direct­ly at grandfoundation.com.

Sub­scribe to our food newslet­ter, Stuffed, to get Den­ver food and drink news sent straight to your inbox. 

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