How a Small Act in Your Community Can Make a Big Impact

Matt Stevens’ personal vision is to see the craft beer industry become as famous for its generosity as its quality.

“I think we can get there,” said Creature Comforts‘ VP of Strategic Impact. “Just one little deposit at a time.”

Stevens had planned to speak at the Craft Brewers Conference this year on positioning a brewery to have a community impact.

“I was gonna be prompting people to start thinking, What do you have? Yes, you don’t have a department of community and culture as we do, we get that, but you do have something,” he said, noting that even little things can make a difference.

“Take 10 minutes in a row and think, what do you have? And also, to a certain extent, what breaks your heart a little bit,” he asked. “What in your community do you feel like has great disparity or great need? Just start there.”

Along with larger and encompassing projects like the Athens, Georgia brewery’s Get Comfortable or Get Artistic programs, Creature Comforts has also launched the Brew for One initiative.

“We’re drilling down into our county comprehensive plans and the needs assessment data, and that’s a lot of my background is in the nonprofit space,” Stevens explained about the Get Comfortable and Get Artistic programs. “We’re trying to ask, okay, what are the greatest needs — so says the data — because we understand what the biggest disparities are in our community, and we’ve mined all that information. Once we know that, we can then determine the agencies that are doing the most to meet that need, and once we know who they are, we can start to do a variety of the pieces of the program to try to concentrate a lot of generosity around this pressing work.”

​The term ​’​brew for one​’​ comes out of ​the thought process that ​Stevens says they use around ​the brewery that ​they want to do for one, what ​they wish ​they could do for everyone.

​”Sometimes you have to say a lot of strategic ​’N​os​​’​ to say some big Yes​’​, because not everyone can say yes to every request or to meet every need or address every cause​,” Stevens said​. ​”If you try​, you​ scatter your resources too thinly.​”

The brewery originally brewed a beer, Cellarman’s Spirit, in honor of a beloved coworker and friend, Bob Weckback. To keep in the tradition of honoring a deserving individual, in 2019 the brewery created ‘Brew For One.’ Each year, the Brew For One program will identify a recipient, then develop a new beer brand to capture the essence of that story and 100 % of the profits made from the release will then be leveraged to aid that individual in a way that is both memorable and meaningful.

“Now every year moving forward, we identify the one, this recipient, some individual telling some great story that we’re trying to come alongside​,” Stevens said​.​ “Once we have identified the one, we then create a beer brand that really captures a part of that story. ​Then we brew the beer and raise the dollars and then we do something to we hope to try to change that person’s life.”​

On March 13, ​Creature Comfort release​s​​ the​ 2020 Brew For One brand, the Ria Pell Ale​ — ​​a ​Pale ​Ale brewed to honor the late chef and Atlanta native, Ria Pell.

“Now the beer is out there and we’re selling it and I think it’s almost sold through at this point,” Stevens said in late March. “Once all the beer is gone and merch is gone we’ll have this pile of money.

“We’ve already identified our “one,” they just don’t know it yet.”

So it’s a little aspect, just one person, that can be impacted. So little and big, the impact can be created, no matter what size a brewery is.

What Stevens was wanting to talk about is so timely, especially with the world we now live in.

“Pre-COVID but especially now, we are reminded every day that there is a tremendous need out there, that the world out there is still broken,” Stevens said. “Our heart hurts for it but because we are so well informed — there’s information everywhere — we are often ill-equipped to know where to begin [to help].

So Stevens suggests to find a cause near and dear to your heart and find agencies and nonprofits that work locally, or even nationally or globally, and see how they are a good steward in that area.

“We just hope that our communities — and by ‘our’ I mean the craft beer community — we hope that they become better when a brewery moves into town,” Stevens said. “When there’s a craft brewery moving into the neighborhood, we hope everyone will say, yes, this is going to be good. Not only because there’ll be a cool new space and great beer, but because of the reputation for this industry becomes over time. One that is as famous for its generosity as it is its quality.”

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  1. Pingback: The Steps Creature Comfort Takes for its Crowd-Sourced Philanthropy - Brewer Magazine

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