Half Moon Bay Finds Ways to Mix Social Issues, Events with Craft Beer

Being politically and socially active is no problem for Half Moon Bay Brewing.

With Alection on sale now for the third time since 2008, a West Coast IPA that has the Democratic and Republican nominees’ faces on different bottles, and the brewery encouraging fans to “vote” for their candidate via a purchase the brewery isn’t shy of stepping out to take a stand either.

The brewery on the San Mateo County, California coastline has created scholarship programs for local high school students along with producing a bi-monthly, community-focused speaker series called “Brews and Views”. The brewery also has two collaborative beers, Saison and “Calf-eine Coffee” Milk Stout to bring awareness to the Not For Sale mission, which fights human trafficking with the help of local CEOs and professional athletes including Jeremy Affeldt of the San Francisco Giants.

The relationship between Not For Sale and the Half Moon Bay began in 2012 when the non-profit was based around the corner from the brewery and the employees of Not For Sale would often find themselves in the beer garden for happy hour. This lead to a friendship between Not For Sale founder Dave Batstone and one of the owners of the brewery, Lenny Mendonca.

“After we got to talking, we realized that it only made sense to partner because we are exactly aligned,” Mendonca said. “At the Brewing Company we are always trying to do good with our business, and Dave’s whole thing is to be aligned with businesses that do good around the world.”

Since, Not For Sale has relocated to San Francisco, but the two companies have been working together, along with Brewmaster James Costa, to come up with beers that are an ode to Not For Sale’s grassroots beginnings. A total of 2.5 percent of gross sales of these beers are donated to Not For Sale.


Brews and Views was founded in November, 2009, by Mendonca, who is director emeritus of the San Francisco and Washington, D.C. offices of McKinsey & Company. Growing up listening to Commonwealth Club forums on NPR, Mendonca believes Brews and Views is an ideal way to involve the public in discussions about everything from environmental issues and economic development to social change and politics.

“Brews and Views has given me the opportunity to start a conversation about important political and social issues by inviting the best and brightest to the Coastside,” he said. “There is power in numbers, and uniting like-minded individuals with a passion for justice can help further spread awareness and education, while continuing to ignite innovative ideas on solving the world’s most pressing issues.”

The free, public events are formatted town hall style, often featuring an initial conversation between the guest speaker and moderator followed by a Q&A session. Notable guests include San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee; Giants CEO Larry Baer; David B. Smith, Managing director of the Presidio Institute; Mike McCurry, former press secretary for President Bill Clinton; Gina Giantz, political organizer and chair of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund; and Molly Sullivan, chief of strategy and innovation for the U.S. Department of the Navy.

The brewery has also worked on innovation as well, taking recycled water one step further and using it to actually brew beer.

Half Moon Bay used wastewater purified with NASA technology to create a version of its popular IPA. The beer went up against the original in a blind taste test and passed with flying colors

“Beer drinkers expect an incredibly high quality, flavorful product, so the taste test of our IPA made with recycled water shows just how fresh and delicious gray water can be once it has gone through this high tech purification process,“ Mendonca said.

For now it is a demonstration project. As the law catches up, regulations become clear and water gets priced properly as a valuable resource, it will be more economic. “We’ve been contacted by several large breweries about our learning and we expect others will follow as they learn more,” Mendonca said.

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