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Politics and Government

Colorado breweries embrace putting politics into the pint

Cerebral Brewing recently helped Planned Parenthood raise $10,000 with its beer Hands Off My Fruit

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The name of the beer says it all: Hands Off My Fruit. 

It’s tart and fruity with a dose of politics. And that’s just how Cerebral Brewing wanted it.

The Denver brewer partnered with Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains and used the beer to raise money for the women’s health care organization that provides abortion services. It also represented a statement of its values. “It’s a cause we are really passionate about so we wanted to support them any way we could,” said Sean Buchan, Cerebral’s owner and head brewer.

Sami Hartman, the sales manager at Cerebral Brewing in Denver, holds four-packs of Hands Off My Fruit, a collaboration beer with Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. (Courtesy of Cerebral Brewing)

The beer — from the name referencing “The Handmaid’s Tale” to the can color matched to Planned Parenthood’s pink logo — showcases how breweries are increasingly putting politics into the pint in a time of heightened polarization. The partnership came after some states pushed to restrict abortions and take aim at the organization.

Read more beer stories from The Colorado Sun.

A year ago, Denver Beer Co. debuted its sister Mexican-themed brewery, Cervecería Colorado, with the slogan #BridgesNotWalls. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democratic presidential candidate, used the slogan on the taproom wall as a backdrop for a recent political event in Denver. 

Cannonball Creek Brewing in Golden makes a session IPA called “Trump Hands,” named in reference to an insult about the president’s hands. And elsewhere in Colorado, brewers are hosting gay pride celebration events and donating part of their sales to community nonprofits with social causes.

Cerebral announced the Hand Off My Fruit release on Facebook like this: “While almost everything seems to be polarizing these days, we believe deeply that health care shouldn’t be. We share the belief that comprehensive and compassionate health care should be available and legal for anyone who seeks it. This belief is at the core of what Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains embodies and we are proud to stand with them in the best way we know how – brewing beer. “

The cans of the kettle sour with raspberries and pineapple sold out quickly, but the beer is still available on tap at Cerebral. The sales from the beer’s debut and donations at the launch party raised nearly $10,000 for Planned Parenthood’s educational arm, far more than the brewery’s past fundraisers for nonprofits. 

Molly Swank, the organization’s director of community engagement, said it allowed them to reach a new audience. “I think a lot of the people that came that night were just excited to see Cerebral standing with Planned Parenthood,” she said.

The crowd at Cerebral Brewing in Denver for the Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains fundraiser in July. (Courtesy of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains)

Cerebral is planning another beer collaboration later this year to support another political cause. Buchan sees more upside than downside.

“I think you firm up your (loyalty) with the audience that shares that belief with you,” he said. “We are going to lose some people that we don’t share an ideology with anyway, and that’s the beauty of this industry and there are many other breweries they can support if they want to, and I’m not going to take offense to it.”

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New Image Brewing in Arvada is another beermaker that lends its brand to social causes. Brandon Capps, the owner and brewer, said the “entire brand ethos is built off of mental health and wellness and promoting advocacy for it.”

The brewery’s name is a reference to Capps own journey. And New Image also sold cans under the name Better Together that included icons in support of LGBT causes. The proceeds from the beer support the Jefferson Center for Mental Health.

But what gave Capps and Buchan confidence to make the step into advocacy is a solid foundation and fan base. Capps said New Image needed to first prove itself as a brewery, and make its voice genuine. 

“We’ve tried to be really organic and not super in your face,” he said. “Craft beer is a really touchy and sensitive market … they don’t like being marketed and pandered to.”

Still, Capps thinks the craft beer audience is a market filled with people who want something more than just an alcoholic beverage.

“If I was trying to sell beer to people who didn’t want to talk about bigger issues, then I’d probably be making a different type of beer,” he said.



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