Madison’s breweries give back with new beers

These new beers are putting autism awareness, brain cancer research and mental health education at the forefront.
Two cans of Smash For Stache next to a full glass of beer.
Photo courtesy of Ryan Browne

A handful of local breweries are selling pints for a couple good causes. Working Draft Brewing Co., Young Blood Beer Co., Vintage Brewing Co., Karben4 Brewing and Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co. have all partnered with initiatives dedicated to autism awareness, brain cancer research, suicide prevention and mental health education.

A portion of the proceeds from each brewery’s beer will be donated to nonprofits.

Things We Don’t Say: Craft Beer for Mental Health

Red and white labels for "Things We Don't Say" next to a full glass of beer

Photo courtesy of Ryan Browne

Hope for the Day, a nonprofit focused on mental health education and proactive suicide prevention, partnered with Milwaukee’s Eagle Park Brewing, Milwaukee’s Malteurop Malting Co. and Washington’s Hollingbery & Son Inc. to concoct Things We Don’t Say: Craft Beer for Mental Health. Eagle Park Brewing created a 6% ABV IPA base recipe that participating breweries — of which there are over 150 from around the world — are free to modify as they see fit.

The Things We Don’t Say IPA is available at Working Draft Beer Co., which shared on Facebook that the combination of cashmere, azacca and El Dorado hops provides notes of rosewater, lavender and melon, while barley, flaked oats and white wheat malt create a soft taste. Working Draft Beer Co. is planning to donate $250 of their current batch to the nonprofit. Vintage Brewing Co. is another Madison brewery taking part in the project.


two cans of beer next to a glass filled with red ale

Photo courtesy of Karben4 Brewing

April is National Autism Acceptance Month, and Karben4 Brewery is showing its support with a new mixed berry sour ale, NeurodiverCity. The brewery is donating a portion of its sales to Common Threads, an area nonprofit focused on promoting an environment of acceptance and growth around the neurodiverse community. The programming offered through Common Threads are geared toward individuals with autism, sensory differences, behavioral disorders and mental health needs.

“We are so happy that a local business intentionally chose to celebrate neurodiversity,” says Kate Poppe, executive director of Common Threads. “We are grateful to be partnering in this step towards autism acceptance in Madison.”

S.M.A.S.H. for Stache

hand holding a green beer can with a palm tree on it

Photo courtesy of Ada Hajdini

Three Madison-area breweries — Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co., Working Draft Beer Co. and Young Blood Beer Co. — are participating in the S.M.A.S.H. for Stache project. The initiative is coordinated by StacheStrong, a nonprofit raising funds for brain cancer research. After three years of successful fundraising through a partnership with Oskar Blues Brewery, StacheStrong is working with breweries across the nation during May, which is Brain Cancer Awareness Month. The nonprofit has raised more than $450,000 for Brain Cancer Research and has funded and launched four separate clinical trials and research grants.

Young Blood Beer Co. is one of more than 160 breweries brewing S.M.A.S.H. for Stache — an acronym that stands for the “single malt and single hop” IPA. Head brewer and co-founder of the Madison brewery, Kyle Gregorash, says when the opportunity to join the project presented itself, he immediately expressed intent to participate and help raise donations.

“This particular project is personal for me, as I have lost a loved one to brain cancer. My Uncle Dean Hirabayashi was a kind, generous, charismatic and fun loving guy,” Gregorash says. “He was quick with a joke, a lifelong athlete and always ready for an impromptu dance party. For me, this is a way to honor the legacy of a truly great man. This beer is for Uncle Dean.”

Co-founder Tom Dufek also mentioned that Young Blood Beer Co. has always done what it can to be a community-focused brewery. “[B]eing involved in causes that are important to us personally and our community has been a focus since day one,” says Dufek. “We’re proud to have worked with nationwide collaborations like Black is Beautiful and local organizations like Freedom Inc., Urban Triage and the Urban League of Greater Madison.”

Hannah Twietmeyer is a contributing writer for Madison Magazine.

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