There are plenty of ways to say thank you—greeting cards, baked goods, a simple handshake—but Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. opted for beer. The newest addition to their year-round lineup is called Dankful IPA, and it’s all about hops and gratitude.
On the 12-ounce can, below the hand-drawn letters of “Dankful,” a wavy ribbon declares “Generously Hoppy.” That was always the plan: brew a danky West Coast-style IPA packed with seven different hop varieties—resinous, a bit tropical, totally in your face. But as Sierra Nevada moved the recipe toward the finish line, a global pandemic was unfolding, its seriousness and longevity sinking in.
Dankful would taste good, no doubt. But could the beer do some good too?
Sierra Nevada observed nonprofits stepping up for COVID relief, meeting needs real-time as normal life was upended. These were organizations committed to their communities, offering hope by making tomorrow a little better.
Through Dankful, the brewery decided to commit at least $1 million in donations through 2021 to spotlight tireless nonprofits—to say thank you. Furthermore, these dollars aren’t contingent on Dankful sales. It’s not strictly up to you, the drinker; it’s an unconditional Sierra Nevada pledge.
“Our goal is to support communities in our backyard and beyond, with a focus on urgent needs for many people right now,” explained Sierra Nevada Vice President Sierra Grossman. “Dankful allows us to focus on what we do best: supporting the causes we believe in and brewing great beer.”
And Dankful wasted no time making an impact. In August 2020, the first partner World Central Kitchen used a $250,000 donation toward its national #ChefsForAmerica program, which provided millions of meals across 400 cities to families facing food insecurity. To meet this demand, World Central Kitchen partnered with local restaurants, ensuring jobs for one of the hardest-hit industries.
Then Sierra Nevada started drilling down to the regional level, aiming to partner with new nonprofits each quarter, allowing the Dankful program to be nimble and swift with support. The first batch of 10 regional partners, much like World Central Kitchen, largely focused on food access in their communities.
In Los Angeles, Sierra Nevada linked up with #HashtagLunchbag whose homemade, bagged lunches—given to school children, front line workers, people experiencing homelessness, and others—are complete with handwritten notes of encouragement. “[We’re] using food as a vessel for spreading love,” says Ajay Relan, founder and executive director of #HashtagLunchbag.
Second Helpings Atlanta, closer to Sierra Nevada’s East Coast brewery, rescues surplus food from going to landfills, redirecting it through a vast network—from food pantries and soup kitchens to grocery stores and school cafeterias—to feed the hungry on a daily basis. “Partnerships like this make the work we do possible,” said Andrea Jaron, executive director of Second Helpings. “We’re inspired by Sierra Nevada’s ongoing effort to constantly innovate and help make real change."
This spring, Sierra Nevada announced their second round of 10 Dankful partners. And while food is still central to their missions, these nonprofits leverage community gardens and urban farms to grow the conversation into one of equity, stewardship, and sustainability.
All around us, it seems, there’s work to be Dankful for—work rich with promise, unmoved by a dreary year. We can cheers to that.