“Beer For Bombs”: Brewery, journalists crafting brews to raise money for Ukraine’s war effort

Cans of Pravda Brewery’s imperial stout will be sold by 26 Degree Brewery as part of the Beer For Bombs fundraiser. Profits from the sales will be given back to Pravda to help the brewery make Molotov cocktails. [Courtesy]

By Michael d’Oliveira | Editor

Pompano Beach – Angry Inch Brewing in Lakeville, Minnesota. Ornery Beer Company in Fairfax, Virginia. Long Table Brewhouse in Denver, Colorado. And now, 26 Degree Brewing Company in Pompano Beach.

Nationwide, commercial brewers are using beer recipes from Pravda Brewery in Lviv, Ukraine; selling the profits and sending the money to help the Ukrainians.

Ornery Beer Company calls it “Canning Putin” on social media and plans to split a $20,000 donation between Pravda and two organizations providing aid in Ukraine, according to wusa9.com.

26 Degree and the Florida Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists [SPJ] are more blunt: raising money so Pravda can make Molotov cocktails to use against Russian soldiers.

Pravda Brewery in Lviv, Ukraine. [Courtesy]

Created by pouring a flammable liquid inside a bottle or other handheld glass container and plugged with a cloth soaked in the same liquid, Molotov cocktails explode into a fireball when the bottle is smashed against its intended target, typically a tank or personnel carrier.

Gillian Manning, associate regional coordinator for SPJ Florida, said supporting violence is not a typical aim for SPJ. But in this case, she said, it’s justified.

“This is the only time we do support violence. Ukraine didn’t ask for this fight. This fight came to them. A lot of civilians are being killed and they deserve to be able to defend themselves,” she said. “I think that [not supporting this particular case of violence] comes from a place of privilege. If someone invaded us, we would want to fight back.”

But homemade weapons of war aren’t the only thing Pravda is brewing. It’s also providing food and medical supplies to its fellow citizens. They also helped pay for a young girl’s surgery because her arm had to be amputated after an airstrike.

Not long after the war began, Pravda released its recipes online, a gesture it hoped would result in breweries making their beers and donating the profits back to them.

Yonathan Ghersi, co-founder of 26 Degree, said he’s brewing Pravda’s imperial stout.

Canning, he said, will begin Monday. The beer will be available at 26 Degree and select stores. A release party will be held May 7, 5 to 7 p.m. at the brewery, 2600 E. Atlantic Blvd. The cost will be $8 per draft and $16 for a four-pack of 16 ounce cans; $12 of every four-pack sale will go directly to Pravda. The first 50 attendees to buy a Beers For Bombs draft will get a free Beers For Bombs can. There will also be discounted beer flights, free food provided by Flanigan’s, a tasting lesson, a performance by the Ukrainian Dancers of Miami, and a recorded message from the owners of Pravda. Visit BeerForBombs.com for more information.

The 9.5 percent alcohol by volume beer, which Ghersi describes as “a little chocolatey” with “roasty, coffee flavors . . . and smoke,” is made as close to the brewing conditions in Ukraine as possible. Even the water used there was replicated here by adding certain minerals, said Ghersi.

Joe Pye [left] and Gillian Manning of the Society of Professional Journalists have partnered with Yonathan Ghersi, co-founder of 26 Degree Brewery, to raise money for Pravda Brewery. [Courtesy]

“We tried to make it like walking into their brewery to drink their beer . . . It’s a way of us trying to help out another brewery that’s going through a really tough time,” said Ghersi.

He did the same with Sierra Nevada Brewing when that company was hurt by wildfires in California. “We try and be thankful that we get to do what we love.”

Joe Pye, SPJ board member and editor of BrowardBeer.com, was inspired to bring the idea of brewing Pravda’s recipes to Ghersi after he wrote about it for his website.

“In a normal life, they’re peaceful brewers. He [Taras Maselko, a Pravda spokesman] told me on WhatsApp, ‘We can fight or we can die’ . . . It’s such a powerful story,” said Pye, who prefers donating directly to Pravda instead of an aid organization.

“I can trust, knowing this money is going directly to people who can impact [what’s happening in Ukraine]. I see the person I’m helping.”

In a video, Pravda’s master brewer, Ihor Chertov, talked about the war and offered his thanks for all the support so far. He filmed himself as he was traveling to purchase a car for the Ukrainian military. “With your support, we can win this war. So thank you for brewing our recipes, for making beer and supporting Ukrainians,” he said. “We cannot brew beer and we try to help somehow. Our army, our people . . . We have no choice. We can fight or die. We have no options. We choose the first one.”

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