Brewery taps into ‘Resilience’ for Camp Fire relief


Rocky Hill Brewing will serve Resilience Butte County Proud IPA as fundraiser for Camp Fire victims

By Reggie Ellis @Reggie_SGN

EXETER – The holidays are a great time to find some local, seasonal brews to relax after a day of fighting the crowds and shopping for that perfect gift. And in the case of an Exeter brewing, drinking beer this month is not just a gift to yourself, but a gift to thousands of people who’ve lost loved ones and their homes during the holiday season.

Rocky Hill Brewing is the only brewery in Tulare County, but one of many breweries across the nation, to participate in brewing “Resilience” … the name given to the beer by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., with the subtitle “Butte County Proud IPA” to sell as a fundraiser for the victims of the Camp Fire in Northern California.

The Camp Fire burned 153,000 acres in Butte County from Nov. 8 to Dec. 14. California’s deadliest fire and nation’s deadliest fire in more than a century, the Camp Fire destroyed nearly 14,000 homes, killed 88 people and nearly 200 more are still missing, as of press time.

Like many Californians, Rocky Hill Brewery owner Ben Litwack was watching the tragic footage of flames towering over entire towns when he saw a notification from Sierra Nevada Brewing pop up on his phone inviting every brewery in the country to help brew a special beer and then donate 100% of their proceeds from the sale of the beer toward Sierra Nevada’s Camp Fire Relief Fund.

“It’s a great opportunity to help a community through craft beer,” Litwack said. “It seemed like a good fit.”
More than 1,400 breweries like Litwack’s answered the call to brew the beer and donate the sales. In all, Resilience Butte County Proud IPA should hit the market in mid-late December more than 17,000 barrels—or 4.2 million pints—strong. Every dollar Sierra Nevada receives will go to those impacted by the Camp Fire.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is headquartered in Chico, Calif., the largest city in Butte County, where the fire burned portions of several communities, and just 30 miles south of Paradise, an entire town of 26,000 people displaced by the Camp Fire. In a message on his website, Grossman said Sierra Nevada seeded the Camp Fire Relief Fund with an initial $100,000 supported through the Golden Valley Bank Community Foundation. Once the fire is completely out, Grossman said Sierra Nevada will distribute all donated money to partner organizations that are dedicated to rebuilding and supporting the communities that have been affected.

“We sent out the ‘bat signal’ calling our friends in the industry, asking our suppliers to donate ingredients, asking other breweries (our competitors) to donate their time and labor costs, and asking our wholesalers and retailers to carry the beer for free,” wrote Sierra Nevada Brewing founder Ken Grossman.

In addition to brewers, Grossman said suppliers donated ingredients and wholesalers and retailers agreed to carry the canned beer sold exclusively by Sierra Nevada and then donate 100% of their sales to the relief fund as well.

“It was a big ask, and we never could have anticipated the response,” Grossman said. “All of them agreed to do this for free to benefit people they had never met.”

Litwack said he will brew three barrels of the beer, equaling 93 gallons or about 750 pints. He said donating all of the labor and sales of a beer is difficult for small brewers like Rocky Hill, which only brews about 100 barrels each year.

“Every batch for us counts a little more,” Litwack said. “But it’s a great cause.”

Litwack said this is one of the few times he had seen a collaboration between brewers. He said the craft brewing scene in the Central Valley is still somewhat new compared to places such as San Diego and the Bay Area.

“Hopefully we will see more of that in the future,” Litwack said. “We’ve been talking about partnering with others and we just have to see how it fits in.”

If IPAs aren’t your thing, Rocky Hill Brewing will plenty of other beers on tap. Some of them are familiar favorites for locals, such as a coffee porter, a New England-style IPA called Blue Dream, and a blond with no name (it’s not a clever title, just a description.) Also on tap will be some seasonal beers including Pastry Stout and a red ale called Miss Frizzle.

Rocky Hill Brewing is located at 20147 Avenue 306 west of Highway 245 between Exeter and Woodlake. Hours are 3-9 p.m. Thursday through Friday; 12-9 p.m. on Saturday; and 12-8 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, call 559-592-4594.

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