All Hopped Up For The Cure 2013

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Yesterday I had lunch at Russian River Brewing, invited by co-owner Natalie Cilurzo as one of a small group of friends who had at least one thing in common: we’d each lost someone to breast cancer. For me, it was my mother when I was 22, and she was only 42. Each year, the Santa Rosa brewpub rolls out its biggest charity effort of the year to raise money for the local Sutter Breast Care Center. The entire month of October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the brewpub is festooned in pink and several great prizes are auctioned throughout the month.

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This is the eighth year they’ve made the All Hopped Up for the Cure charity effort, and last year they raised $76,000 for breast cancer. SO far, they’re on target to beat that total this year. Here’s Natalie Cilurzo writing on the brewery’s blog about this year’s charity drive:

So here we are and it’s already October, my favorite month of the year. Aside from it being beautiful in Sonoma County, we host our annual month-long fundraiser for the Sutter Women’s Health Care Center of Santa Rosa, which brings me great joy! All of the money we raise/donate goes directly to help uninsured or underinsured women AND men in our community receive life saving screening and treatment for Breast Cancer. Recently we have become acquainted with several recipients of our fundraising efforts. Some of their lives have been changed or even saved by the services offered by Sutter. Check out our special Breast Cancer Awareness Month page on our website during October for more info on raffle items, how to get this year’s cute shirt and other interesting things!

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This Saturday will be the final blowout of the month-long charity drive — a costume party — when the auction winners will be revealed. But there’s still time to help their efforts, both with donations and buying raffle tickets for the auction items. The big ticket item, a pink Genuine Buddy 50cc scooter, you can try to win for $10 a raffle ticker, or 3 for $25. The winner of the scooter will announced at 10 p.m. Saturday night.

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There are a few other terrific items being raffled, too. For instance, there’s a custom-made guitar by local luthier Tom Ribbecke of Ribbecke Guitars. To win the guitar, it’s also $10 a raffle ticker, or 3 for $25.

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There’s also a pink bicycle, an Electra Beach Cruiser, “graciously donated by The Bike Peddler in Santa Rosa.” Tickets for the bike are only $1 per raffle ticket, or 6 for $5.

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There’s also some cool t-shirts, designed by local artist Laurel Gregory.

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Gregory also created a pink painting of a Pliny the Elder bottle that will be auctioned Saturday.

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The scooter will be announced at 10 p.m., but the rest of the items will have the winners for them announced throughout the evening. So come and enjoy an evening at Russian River and help raise money for a very worthy cause. There will also be music, by Brothers Horse. In addition to Russian River’s regular beers, the special release Framboise for a Cure 2013 (bottles of which are sold out) will be tapped at 5:00 p.m. The beer uses Temptation as its base beer, to which 800 pounds of fresh raspberries are added (30 pounds per barrel), and then it’s aged for several months in Chardonnay barrels spiked with brett, lacto, and pedio. There are only two kegs of it left, and they’ll keep selling it until it runs out. This is your last chance to try this year’s version. There will also be 23 special growlers, screened in pink ink, and full of the Framboise beer available for a minimum donation of $100.

Come on down Saturday night and get All Hopped Up For the Cure!

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It’s October: Time To Make The Beer Community Feel Guilty

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Ah, it’s October again, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and right on cue, it’s time to be insulted once more by the anti-alcohol bunch that can’t let any good deed go unpunished. This time around it’s Alcohol Justice — boy, have they been busy lately — who’s telling us how hypocritical we are for wanting to do anything to support the quest to find a cure for breast cancer. Alcohol Justice calls any such efforts a “mockery of public health, breast cancer advocacy, and alcohol policy,” and most importantly, a “mockery of breast cancer survivors and their loved ones.” Well, given that I lost my own mother to breast cancer and I love the fact that so many breweries, many of whom are my friends, take the time and effort to raise money for that cause, I have only two words for Alcohol Justice: “fuck you.”

You don’t get to decide how people spend their money, where they make their charitable donations or how. In the example highlighted in “If It Makes You Wealthy: Sheryl Crow & Treasury Wine Estates Sell Out Women’s Health,” the promotion they’re objecting to is a large wine conglomerate raising money for breast cancer research with Sheryl Crow’s support and participation, something that was announced this past July. Crow herself is a breast cancer survivor so they’re really thumbing their nose at her, too. If a cancer survivor chooses to try and do some good to raise money for a cause she feels personally invested in, it’s pretty shameless of you to try to grab headlines by calling her names and publicly telling her not to support that cause unless she does it the way they think it should be done.

They also take issue with Crow because the promotion is promising to “donate up to $100,000 to breast cancer charities,” an amount that Alcohol Justice derisively has decided is not nearly enough. I guess their first choice would be for her not to raise any money for breast cancer, but if she does, it had better be a large enough amount to satisfy them. They’re taking this page out of the playbook of Breast Cancer Action, who a few years ago declared that everyone of us in the alcohol industry trying to do good, and raise money for breast cancer, should be “ashamed of ourselves.” I wrote about that when they went on television and insulted us, in Biting the Hand That Feeds You.

In the paragraph before Alcohol Justice calls me, and the rest of us in the alcohol industry who care about breast cancer, a mockery, they claim that “[p]romoting alcohol as a healthy product is a harmful public relations tactic,” and suggest that the problem is “cancer advocate Crow is applying her considerable celebrity capital to increase sales of a product that contributes to the incidence of breast cancer in women.” The study they cite is from 2011, Moderate alcohol consumption during adult life, drinking patterns, and breast cancer risk, which did indeed conclude that “[l]ow levels of alcohol consumption were associated with a small increase in breast cancer risk,” which other studies have also shown, but that’s not the entire story, of course. One thing these incidents tend to have in common is relying on just one particular study as the foundation for why we in the alcohol industry should be feeling guilty for trying to help raise awareness or money for breast cancer. But what about the bigger picture? Here’s what I wrote about this three years ago.

[A]t least one [study] done by Kaiser Permanente shows that it’s the amount that matters, the higher the intake the greater the risk, meaning moderate drinking has less risk.

Still others show just the opposite. For example, a 2008 study at the Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal showed that Compounds in Beer and Wine Slow Breast Cancer Cell Growth. Still another suggests that “xanthohumol found in hops [has] the potential to lower the risk of prostate cancer, [and] researchers believe it could also reduce breast cancer risk in a similar manner — by binding to the receptors on breast cancer cells and blocking the effects of estrogen which stimulates the growth of certain types of breast cancer.” That’s about the discovery that xanthohumol, a Cancer-fighting agent found in beer.

In a fact sheet about the relationship between Alcohol and the Risk of Breast Cancer at Cornell University, there’s this sage advice:

Researchers have reported that women who consume light to moderate amounts of alcohol have a decreased risk of developing and dying from cardiovascular disease. Since more women are affected by and may die from cardiovascular diseases than breast cancer, the recommendations regarding alcohol and breast cancer may seem to contradict the reports regarding cardiovascular disease. The 1996 Guidelines on Diet, Nutrition and Cancer Prevention from the American Cancer Society suggest that most adults can drink, but they should limit their intake. Given the complex relationship between alcohol consumption and different diseases, any recommendations should be based on information about all health risks and benefits.

Exactly. Of course women should make individual decisions based upon their family history and/or other personal factors, but making a pronouncement for everyone is wrong. The overall positive effects of moderate alcohol consumption have to be weighed against individual risk factors. For example, total mortality is effected positively by moderate alcohol consumption, that is numerous studies and meta-studies have shown that people who drink in moderation will most likely live longer than people who abstain completely or who regularly binge drink. And that’s taking into account both the negative and positive risks and rewards.

So once again Alcohol Justice is bending the truth for their own purposes, and making the world black and white, in which it’s their way or the highway. They know best. You don’t have to worry about thinking for yourself, not when they can do the thinking for you. I love that they refer to the wine company as “posing as a health advocate,” as if anyone is “anti-health.” As if the people, and yes those of us in the alcohol industry are indeed people, even if Alcohol Justice paints us as less than human, wanted people to get breast cancer. Even if it were true that everyone who drank alcohol would get cancer (it’s not) why would anyone object to us donating money to finding a cure for it or helping to build awareness? So many people’s lives have been touched by cancer generally, and breast cancer in specific, but the way Alcohol Justice frames it, none of us should have anything to do with alcohol, or we’re mocking our loved ones. How many other professions or industries would they want to ban people from engaging in if they might result a potential danger. Should people who work for gun companies be ashamed of themselves because others may use a gun in a crime or to murder someone? Should fast food workers feel guilty because the people who buy their food might be eating the wrong kinds of food, leading to health problems, obesity and disease, and might place a burden on the healthcare system. Do you know what the ultimate cause of death is? Living. As R.D. Laing quipped. “Life is a sexually transmitted disease and the mortality rate is one hundred percent.” We all make choices about how we use the time that’s afforded each of us. And Alcohol Justice can jump down off their high horse and stop telling the rest of how to live our lives. That would certainly improve the time I have left on this world, so I can get back to enjoying myself with a good beer.

The Neo-Prohibitionist Agenda: Punishment Or Profit

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Regular bulletin readers know well my disdain for the hypocritical anti-alcohol organizations trying their damndest to remove all alcohol from society or, failing that, make everyone who makes, sells or enjoys alcohol as miserable as they are. Not surprisingly, at the recent Alcohol Policy 16 Conference, which took place in Arlington, Virginia in early April, they revealed just how far their hypocrisy extends yet again.

Angela Logomasini, who attended the conference on behalf of Wine Policy, noted that during a panel discussion on alcohol tax policy that the “entire discussion revolved around how to lobby for taxes and profit in the process.” Given that the subtitle of the entire conference was “Building Blocks for Sound Alcohol Policies,” she can be excused for believing that the discussion might involve “research related to the impact of taxes on alcohol abuse” or whether “higher taxes really reduce alcohol abuse.” Such reasonable topics, however, were not even discussed. Instead, as I said, the entirety of the talk “revolved around how to lobby for taxes and profit in the process.”

Logomasini continued her description of the panel discussion:

Rebecca Ramirez of the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University presented her qualitative research on the framing of pro-tax messaging for use in lobbying campaigns. It included interviews with policymakers and activists involved in these campaigns. Ramirez’s discussion eventually turned to earmarking, which is apparently the key reason many groups are involved. Officials with one disability advocacy group, she noted, told her flat out they simply didn’t care about the public health impacts of taxes. They were in the game solely to get some of the tax revenue steered toward their organization.

She wonders aloud how that might serve the public good, and it appears she’s not the only one. Surprisingly enough, Bruce Lee Livingston, sheriff of my local anti-alcohol posse Alcohol Justice, disagrees, apparently believing profiting from lobbying efforts does not serve the public health. He takes a different view. Livingston “commented during the question and answer portion that activists are unable to get taxes high enough to actually produce positive public health benefits. Rather, he called for a ‘charge-for-harm’ approach, which is based on the assumption that anyone who drinks deserves to be punished.” That’s the same bullshit approach he took trying to get an additional tax on alcohol in San Francisco in 2010, all but writing the script for Supervisor John Avalos’ ultimately failed Alcohol Mitigation Fee Ordinance.

So, as Angela Logomasini observes, there were only two approaches or reasons to raise alcohol taxes brought up by essentially every neo-prohibitionist group in the country, or at least in attendance. As I’ve been ranting for years now, none of those reasons had anything to do with public health, or safety, or any other lofty goals. These self-proclaimed “public health advocates” only want to raise taxes on alcohol for two reasons: either to enrich themselves and profit from the alcohol companies their groups target or to punish every single person who dares to enjoy a pint of beer or glass of wine. And yet they still maintain non-profit status.

If nothing else, this should teach us that like many modern charitable organizations, they’ve strayed very far from their original purpose and self-preservation and profit are their only motives now. As I’ve said many, many times, they need a reason to exist and so they keep reinventing themselves in order to survive and keep their — in the parlance of Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles — phony baloney jobs. And so raising money becomes the driving force, not any interest in bettering the world, instead just pandering to their members’ fears, paranoia and prejudices. And if all of us who enjoy beer, and drink responsibly, get punished in the process, so what? Apparently, that’s just a bonus.

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All Hopped Up For The Cure At Russian River

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It’s October now, and that means that Russian River Brewing is once again All Hopped Up For the Cure, their annual charity benefitting Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is the sixth year they’ve raised money for Sutter Breast Care Center in Santa Rosa. Last year, they donated $67,000 to the center. Their goal for this year’s efforts is $75,000. Stop by the pub this month, as they’ll be a lot going on and swag to buy to help support the cause. Here’s co-owner Natalie Cilurzo writing on the brewery’s blog about their charity drive:

We also have 3 different styles of commemorative “All Hopped Up For The Cure” shirts available for purchase at the pub and in our online gift shop! Original design on this year’s shirts is by local tattoo artist, Joe Leonard, and Matt Morgan from Farm Fresh Shirts. In addition to the beer and the shirts, we are raffling off some very cool items later in the month. The Pink Vespa, Pink Guitar, and Pink Bicycle are being delivered this week for our raffle on October 27th. Raffle tickets available and items on display at the pub all month long. I will post pictures once they show up. I have only seen the scooter in person, but the guitar and bike remain a mystery. And NEW this year is the 2013 Pin-Up Calendar also available for purchase at the pub!

This one is always personal to me, because my own mother passed away when she was only 42 — and I was just 22 — a victim of breast cancer. So please generously support Russian River’s All Hopped Up for the Cure.

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Bartender Amir Bramell and co-owner Natalie Cilurzo pouring pink beer as the month-long breast cancer awareness charity drive begins at Russian River Brewery.

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For a second year, they’ve brewed a special beer, Framboise for a Cure 2012, a perfectly pink beer brewed with raspberries. The beer uses Temptation as its base beer, to which 800 pounds of fresh raspberries are added, and then it’s aged for several months in Chardonnay barrels spiked with brett, lacto, and pedio. The beer is available only at the Santa Rosa brewpub (with 3 notable exceptions) on draft and in bottles throughout October (or until it runs out). 100% of the proceeds of this beer are donated to the local breast cancer charity. Bottles are $15. They will run out. BTW, it’s absolutely delicious, a near perfect blend of sour and sweet, tart fruit.

Danny Williams Needs Your Help

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If you’re in the brewing industry, and especially if you’ve entered your beers in the Great American Beer Festival and/or the World Beer Cup, then you no doubt know Danny Williams. He’s worked with the Brewers Association at GABF for a number of years, and since 2001 has been in charge of the beer for competition judging. It’s his job to see that it arrives, is maintained under the proper conditions, and eventually makes it into the hands of the judges. Last year there were 3,930 beers judged at GABF. So it’s quite a task.

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Danny Williams and Lindsay Husted, also from the Brewers Association, at the World Beer Cup dinner in Chicago two years ago.

Unfortunately, Danny cannot work these days. He’s recently been diagnosed with cancer, and has cancerous legions all over his stomach and pancreas, which tragically is a type of cancer that typically has a very low survival rate. The pain he’s enduring is so great that he is simply unable to work, and he’s chosen not to attempt to treat it since the prognosis is so bleak and recovery unlikely. Danny’s decided instead to enjoy what time is left to him with his friends and family as best he can.

Danny is only 52 and has two grown kids from his first marriage. He also has an 8-year old son, Fletcher, from his most recent. As you might expect, not being able to work, having mouths to feed, and medical bills to pay, has left him in dire financial straits. At the moment, he is in danger of losing his home and the infamous “beer mine” — a former gold mine, sadly with no more riches — where he ages his beer collection. It’s even been mentioned in the New York Times. His friends and family are trying their best to make sure he can stay in his home during his remaining months and, if possible, that it can stay in his family after he’s gone. I can’t stress enough how precarious his situation really is.

His good friend, Ben Spencer — who’s the head brewer at Magnolia in San Francisco — recently went to Colorado to spend some time with Danny. Talking with Ben, I think it was rough on him seeing his friend in such a difficult situation. It’s hard for a lot of people to deal with such tragedy. I know. I went through something very similar with my own mother when I was in my early twenties. Ben reflected on seeing Danny last week and asks that you help out his friend, and your friend, as best you’re able.

Danny is a great man, and an amazing advocate of the craft brewing movement. He has affected all of us in many ways. I understand that times are tough, but please help my brother out. He needs us now.

Please donate what you can to help Danny. If you’re a brewery or other business and want to make a more substantial donation, there is a fund set up at First Bank in Boulder, Colorado under the name the “Danny Williams Fund.” Contact me or Ben Spencer for the account number and routing information. Or just post a comment below and one of us will send you the information.

To make a smaller, or really any amount, donation, we’ve set up a simple PayPal donation that’s very easy to use. Just click on the button below, fill in any amount you wish and follow the on screen instructions. Thank you.

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Below are some photos of Danny enjoying life, which is how he should be remembered.

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Tom Nickel (owner of O’Brien’s in San Diego), Nancy Johnson, Director of GABF and Danny at Slow Food Nation 2008 in San Francisco.

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Danny in the former goldmine beer cellar.

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Danny’s Angels, after a BA event.

Be an angel, too. Please donate generously to make Danny’s remaining time as comfortable, enjoyable and stress-free as possible; and help secure a future for his family after he’s gone.

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Also, while I don’t usually condone plagiarism, this is a special circumstance. If you write a blog or website, feel free to take any or all of this content, text, links and photos, to help spread the word to help out Danny. The more people we can reach, the more we can help. Thanks.

Make Lew Bryson’s Christmas A Happy One!

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Okay people, time to step up to the bar. A month ago, a new project was announced on Kickstarter starring my friend and colleague Lew Bryson. The project is being produced by Rudy Vegliante of Green Leaf Productions and the idea is to create a series of six half-hour television shows starring Lew. With 30 days to go, only 6% of the needed funds to make the show a reality have been raised. A mere 65 people have pledged $3,716 of the $60K needed. Frankly, that’s pathetic.

C’mon, beer people. I’ve pledged $300, and would have gone higher if I wasn’t trying to make a rather large purchase at the moment. Surely, there are more than 65 people who have benefitted from Lew Bryson’s reviews, laughter, rantings, writings, speaking engagements, etc. Just his being in the beer community makes it a better place. We’ve all seen what happens when non-beer people try to make a TV show about beer. At best it comes off half-baked, full of misinformation, half-truths and propaganda. At worst, it’s a disaster. I’ve personally been involved in trying to get several such projects off the ground. None have gotten very far. It’s tough. Most people outside our rarified community don’t quite get why we’re so passionate about it, and that shows in the finished products that have been made so far.

So here’s a chance for one of our own to be the voice of craft beer, celebrating it in a way we can probably all agree with. And with guaranteed laughter, guffaws and unbridled chuckles thrown in for good measure. Lew is the right big galoot for this job.

Lew has just over 2,500 twitter followers, I have a little over 4,000. Even assuming for some overlap, that’s got to be around 6,000. If each one of you pledged just $10, Lew would be home for Christmas, with all the funding he needs. It’s the price of about two pints, give or take. Surely that’s not too much to create a one-of-kind television show about craft beer, by craft beer, for craft beer. Think of it as giving back to the beer community that has enriched your life, in the spirit of the holidays. Give Lew Bryson a Malty Christmas and a Hoppy New Year.

You can get all the details from my previous post or, better still, directly from the Kickstarter project page for American Beer Blogger.

Okay, I’m climbing back down off my soapbox. Resume holiday merriment.

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Me and Lew at Berkeley’s Triple Rock last year.

When “The Cure” Is Worse Than The Disease

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This is only tangentially related to beer, so caveat lector — let the reader beware — and concerns some shenanigans by another breast cancer charity again. You may recall last year, a San Francisco-based one, Breast Cancer Action, threw beer under the bus and told the alcohol community they should be ashamed of themselves for raising money for the worthy cause of breast cancer awareness. In my write-up at the time, Biting the Hand That Feeds You, I remarked about a disturbing trend I’d been noting with large charitable organizations.

I’m really starting to believe that there’s now a “charitable industrial complex,” that these behemoth charities have become big business in their own right. And from what some of you have written, and from what I’ve seen, it appears that, like many big corporations, much of the profits go to the people who run them and only a little goes to shareholders, or in this case to the actual charitable cause itself. They seem to have become more about the money than the well-intentioned passion to do something about an issue that led to their formation.

More proof of my growing uneasiness with behemoth charities came to light recently, this time from Susan G. Komen For the Cure. They’ve started sending out cease and desist letters to over a hundred (possibly hundreds of) smaller charities threatening them with lawsuits if they don’t stop using their trademarked “for the cure” phrase in such organizations as “Kites for a Cure, Par for The Cure, Surfing for a Cure and Cupcakes for a Cure.”

Stephen Colbert Show on January 3 mentioned this in his “Tip of the Hat/Wag of My Finger” segment:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Tip/Wag – Susan G. Komen Foundation & Spider-Man Musical<a>
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog</a> March to Keep Fear Alive

Well, the Huffington Post report referenced in the Colbert segment was also sent to me today by Natalie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing, whose own campaign, All Hopped Up For the Cure, seems destined to get one of these threatening letters, too. After reading Susan G. Komen Foundation Elbows Out Charities Over Use Of The Word ‘Cure’, I think it’s even worse than Colbert’s piece suggested, and that was pretty bad.

The majority of the charities being threatened by Susan G. Komen appear to be small “Mom & Pop” charities with few resources to fight a lawsuit with the big law firms retained by Komen. They’ve apparently been spending a million dollars a year, money they received from donors which ironically did not go toward finding a “cure,” on legal fees alone.

They told one charity that “they own ‘cure’ in a name and we had to stop using it, even though we were raising money for an entirely different cause.” They told another to “never use the color pink in conjunction with their fundraising.” This is what I meant before. This is just bullying, plain and simple. I understand that companies have an affirmative duty to protect what they believe to be their trademarks or brands, but there are ways to do things, and ways not to do things. It’s seems to me that being a bully while at the same time claiming to be a charity could easily be a PR disaster.

What this ends up being about is protecting their own revenue stream, which if they were a “for profit” business would make perfect sense. But when protecting your own revenue stream also means taking money away from other charities, it’s not as black and white any longer, at least not to me. The charitable communities should, I think, be working together toward a common goal, even if they go about it in different ways. Curing cancer should be the only goal that matters, but Komen’s actions seem to show that it’s become more about “who” finds the cure or can muster the most money and resources to shut down their “competition” from using the same effective fund-raising tactics. It’s hard for me to support any charity whose goal seems to be more about the money and power than actually finding a cure.

I don’t care how “legal” their actions are or what side of the law their actions fall on, it still comes across badly. There’s the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. These now behemoth charities used to be about passionately trying to do good work in the world, whether fighting a disease or helping people in need, or what have you. But increasingly they seem no different than any other big business, using their large resources, political clout, etc. to throw their weight around with little regard for their original mission or purpose. As one of the women whose charity’s been targeted, Sue Prom ends the HuffPo article with the following.

“I used to give money to Komen all the time, but now I’m just kind of wary of them,” [Sue Prom] said. “I’m not buying Yoplait yogurt or anything that has the word ‘Komen’ on it. They seem to have forgotten what charity is about.”

Please Help JB Shireman

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My friend and colleague Harry Schuhmacher of the Beer Business Daily wrote yesterday about his feelings for the beer industry:

This industry has been very good to me. I love this industry as if it were a treasured relative: I love it’s idiosyncrasies, I love the product itself, but most of all I love the people. I’ve made so many friendships in this business that I value deeply. This industry, I believe, has the best people of any industry on earth.

And I must agree. That’s how I feel as well. The beer world is a tight knit community, as close to a family as an industry could get. I spent several hours last night reminded of that fact at Anchor Brewery’s annual Christmas party seeing old friends, drinking some great beer and eating some terrific food. We’re there for each other and help out whenever we can. I love that about beer, how it brings people together. I bring this up because there’s a new opportunity for us to help one of our own, someone who really needs our assistance.

Perhaps many of you know JB Shireman, or perhaps you’ve only heard his name, perhaps not. Shireman worked for many years at New Belgium Brewing, and he was a big part of their rapid expansion, traveling extensively to build their distribution networks as they added state after state. Last year, he left New Belgium in order to spend more time raising his son, became a consultant for craft brewers, and also opened a bar, the Bar Double S in Laporte, Colorado.

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Unfortunately, I learned the following from Harry, who learned it from Bump Williams, a well-known beer business expert with IRI Symphony.

Doctors have discovered a large tumor in JB’s brain. The good news is that the tumor is benign. The bad news is that it will take a very long, complex, and expensive surgery to remove the tumor. JB has only told a close circle of compadres about his situation, and of course he has not asked for any help.

Bump also told Harry about his idea for a fundraiser to help out JB Shireman, and especially the medical costs he and his family are facing. Beer Business Daily posted a letter from Bump Williams, which I reprinted in part below:

I need your help in trying to raise $10,000.00 between December 10th and January 10th (2011) for JB Shireman, a dear friend of the Beer business who has to undergo brain surgery in early January. The surgery is going keep him out of work for a longer period of time than any of us wants, and I’d like to ask for your help in getting him up, on his feet and back to work just as soon as humanly possible. The good news is that the surgeons performing JB’s operation are the best in the business and they all agree that the prognosis is very good for him.

You all know JB and all the work he has done while at New Belgium promoting Beer in general, Craft Beer in particular, Wholesaler training, helping the Retailer understand the dynamics of the Craft consumer and his new work in being Craft-Centric thinkers. We can’t afford to have him out of commission for too long! I expect JB to be laid up and unable to tend to the job he loves most — BEER — for about 8 weeks after his surgery; and that’s a long time for someone like him to be out of commission. You all know JB as well as I do, and you understand the need to get him back up and into the work environment before he goes stir-crazy just laying around in bed recovering and getting his strength back!

I’m asking everyone across this wonderful business who knows JB or who has worked with him for a small contribution to help defray a lot of the medical and recovery costs he is going to inherit after his surgery. I’d also like for you to include JB in your thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery as he goes through this anxious time. He is a good friend of all ours; he’s a friend of the industry and a great father, too. If the tables were turned around and he knew that one of his friends needed help, he’d be the first person in line to lend a hand.

From December 10, 2010 (JB’s birthday) through January 10, 2011 (post surgery), our goal is to collect $10,000.00 to help JB defray his medical and recuperation costs.

Here is what you need to do if you are able to help:

  1. Please send this note to as many people as you can who might know JB, and let them know of JB’s situation and our fundraiser for him.
  2. Send me a donation to the address below (made out to Mr. John Shireman) before January 10, 2011 and I will deposit it into a separate savings account.
  3. After JB’s surgery, I will have the bank write a cashier’s check made out to JB and then hand-deliver it to him at his home in LaPorte, CO along with a card that bears the name of everyone who was able to make a donation.

Thanks for your consideration, I really appreciate it.

BUMP Williams
900 Beaver Dam Road
Stratford, CT 06614

I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate your kindness and help; and you all know JB well enough to know what it will mean to him. Be well, always,

BUMP

I would encourage anyone who knows JB or just wants to help out a worthy cause, to donate and help Bump reach his goal of raising $10,000 by January 10. Let’s help out a friend in need. It just feels like the right thing to do, especially during the holidays when I can think of no better way to celebrate than helping out our fellow man, make that our fellow “beer” man.

Please spread the word.

Biting the Hand That Feeds You

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This has has me seriously steaming mad. As you may know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The brewing community, particularly locally, has done much to help that cause and raise money for breast cancer research and treatment. Marin Brewing has been putting on the Breastfest for ten years now, and the annual beer festival was specifically created to benefit breast cancer awareness. As a side note, Marin County inexplicably has one of the highest rates of breast cancer in the country.

Natalie Cilurzo, co-owner of Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa, goes all out every October with their All Hopped Up For the Cure campaign to raise money for the cause. For the last few years, they’ve decorated the brewpub in pink and auctioned a pink Vespa. It’s a cause that’s very personal to her and she spends a lot of time and energy on it every year.

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That’s just the Bay Area. In Atlanta, there’s a Beer 4 Boobs beer festival. There are similar breast cancer charity events at breweries and in the form of beer festivals all over the country. Boulder, Colorado has one at Boulder Beer Co. and the Lost Abbey in San Diego sponsored an event along with White Labs. The Ladies of Craft Beer also held a “Beer for Boobs Brunch” at Denver’s Freshcraft restaurant. And that’s probably the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

My own mother died from breast cancer when I was only 22, nearly thirty years ago. I’ve lived virtually my entire adult life without the comfort and counsel of my mother so it’s pretty personal to me, as well. As a result, I’m quite proud that the brewing community is so supportive of a cause that’s near and dear to me and many of my friends.

But apparently I shouldn’t be proud of that. In fact I should be ashamed of it. That’s what Angela Wall of Breast Cancer Action in San Francisco said on MSNBC yesterday. And it wasn’t just an offhand remark, it was the considered position of her organization. They even put up a prepared graphic with the same quote, but from Executive Director Barbara Brenner telling me a second time how ashamed I should be that the brewing community might try to help her cause.

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This reminds me a bit of when Anheuser-Busch put water in plain white beer cans with only their logo and where the water came from and then sent them to Haiti to help with earthquake relief. The Marin Institute had the temerity to chastise them in a press release for putting their logo on the cans and, wait for it, sending out a press release about it. I wrote all about that in Let No Good Deed Go Unpunished.

This is the same thing. But there’s a couple of ways to look at her problem with alcohol companies raising money for breast cancer. First — for purposes of discussion — let’s assume that alcohol does indeed cause breast cancer. The Marin Institute has this hokey idea of “charge for harm” where they believe that whatever “harm” is caused by people drinking alcohol should have to be paid for by the companies who make it. It’s a specious argument, but again — just to talk about it — let’s say that they’re right. Wouldn’t the industry actually paying money for their supposed harm be a good thing, exactly what their critics think they should be doing? That they’re raising money for breast cancer should be seen as a good thing, shouldn’t it? If they think the alcohol industry is causing the problem, then this should be exactly what the industry should do. But they don’t, do they? They think the industry shouldn’t be doing that, and they think they shouldn’t be trying to make a profit either.

Wall claims that “trying to sell alcohol to promote breast cancer awareness” is “shameful” because alcohol also carries a risk of breast cancer. But that makes no sense. Does she think for that reason alone, alcohol companies should simply just go out of business and stop making their products? Obviously, that would harm the economy and put thousands out of work. And of course, not everyone who drinks will get breast cancer. So presumably she’d prefer that the alcohol companies simply not raise money for her cause, but that seems counter-intuitive since it’s money that funds research into finding a cure for breast cancer. But since no one’s going to stop making alcohol just on her say so, I honestly don’t understand why she’d turn down money that might actually help find a cure if it didn’t come from the “right” source.

I would very much want there to be a cure for breast cancer found, if for no grander reason than I hope no one else has to go through losing their mother at a young age. I’m sure many people feel that way, and a number of them probably also work in the alcohol field. Some of them are my friends. But here Wall is telling me we should be ashamed of feeling that way because we work in the alcohol industry. I have to say, that pisses me off but good. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so conflicted about wanting to help a cause but feeling deeply offended and insulted by some of the people and organizations involved in it.

But perhaps the most telling part of the interview was when the MSNBC reporter remarked that one alcohol company had donated $500,000 to breast cancer awareness causes and then she asked a simple, direct question of Wall. “Do you think that money should be given back?” Wall hems and haws, but refuses to give a yes or no answer, indeed never really even addresses the question. Clearly, she’s not giving the money back. But the brewing industry, we’re the hypocrites?

On a post at their Think Before You Pink blog about this MSNBC appearance, they state that “[w]hile we do believe that the media focuses too heavily on lifestyle (diet and exercise, for example) in discussion of breast cancer risk, it’s irresponsible for companies to encourage people to ‘drink year round for breast cancer.’” So what Breast Cancer Action is saying is that they don’t like the media or how it covers breast cancer, but they’re still willing to use it when it suits them by appearing on it to further their agenda and get their message out. So I ask again, it’s the alcohol industry who’s being hypocritical by raising money for breast cancer?

One other quite strange argument made by Angela Wall for why alcohol companies should not be raising money for breast cancer was that it was no longer necessary. She said. “I don’t think anybody in this country is unaware of breast cancer in this month.” Oh, really? I guess we’re done with this issue, no more awareness or money is needed, the fight is over. Good job everybody, you can go home now. Of course, then why bother to keep designating October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month? If their work is done, why bother? You get the feeling she really hates us, if she’d go so far as to try and convince people that whatever money we raise isn’t even necessary. But I guess we should be getting used to that. Being in the alcohol industry is increasingly like being the fat kid at model camp. Everyone feels like they can make fun of us and attack us because, you know, we’re fat after all.

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The basis for Breast Cancer Action’s outrage is the results of one new study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology that “found drinking alcoholic beverages, including wine, beer and liquor, may increase risk of breast cancer recurrence, particularly among postmenopausal and overweight and/or obese women.” That’s as reported in a story in Food Consumer, which also cherry picks a few other studies which show similar risks. But that’s not exactly the whole story nor is this exactly as settled as they’d like you to believe, not by a long shot. While studies do indeed appear to show an increased risk of breast cancer in women, at least one done by Kaiser Permanente shows that it’s the amount that matters, the higher the intake the greater the risk, meaning moderate drinking has less risk.

Still others show just the opposite. For example, a 2008 study at the Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal showed that Compounds in Beer and Wine Slow Breast Cancer Cell Growth. Still another suggests that “xanthohumol found in hops [has] the potential to lower the risk of prostate cancer, [and] researchers believe it could also reduce breast cancer risk in a similar manner — by binding to the receptors on breast cancer cells and blocking the effects of estrogen which stimulates the growth of certain types of breast cancer.” That’s about the discovery that xanthohumol is a Cancer-fighting agent found in beer.

In a fact sheet about the relationship between Alcohol and the Risk of Breast Cancer at Cornell University, there’s this sage advice:

Researchers have reported that women who consume light to moderate amounts of alcohol have a decreased risk of developing and dying from cardiovascular disease. Since more women are affected by and may die from cardiovascular diseases than breast cancer, the recommendations regarding alcohol and breast cancer may seem to contradict the reports regarding cardiovascular disease. The 1996 Guidelines on Diet, Nutrition and Cancer Prevention from the American Cancer Society suggest that most adults can drink, but they should limit their intake. Given the complex relationship between alcohol consumption and different diseases, any recommendations should be based on information about all health risks and benefits.

Exactly. Of course women should make individual decisions based upon their family history and/or other personal factors, but making a pronouncement for everyone is wrong. The overall positive effects of moderate alcohol consumption have to be weighed against individual risk factors. For example, total mortality is effected positively by moderate alcohol consumption, that is numerous studies and meta-studies have shown that people who drink in moderation will most likely live longer than people who abstain completely or who regularly binge drink. And that’s taking into account both the negative and positive risks and rewards.

So the Breast Cancer Action’s outrage seems to avoid looking at the big picture and instead focuses all it’s enmity at one individual study. I’m not saying it shouldn’t be concerned by that study, but to not factor in any other and to use that to shout at organizations trying to help their cause is unbelievably obnoxious and off-putting.

Wall also claims that alcohol represents the “only proven link between food and breast cancer.” Hmm, let’s break that down. That’s a pretty declarative statement for something as complex as the relationship between cancer and alcohol and how the body processes it. That there are studies that seem to show an increased risk of breast cancer and others which show just the opposite suggests that a definite link has hardly been “proven.” But perhaps more annoying is her saying that it’s the only food that increases the risk of breast cancer. Dietary fat also appears to be linked. “International findings suggest that breast cancer rates are minimal in countries where the standard diet is low in fat (particularly animal fat). It is known that fat cells play a role in estrogen production, especially in postmenopausal women. Therefore, being overweight may contribute to risky estrogen exposure in such individuals.” According to WebMD:

The link between diet and breast cancer is debated. Obesity is a noteworthy risk factor, and drinking alcohol regularly — more than a couple of drinks a day — may promote the disease. Many studies have shown that women whose diets are high in fat are more likely to get the disease. Researchers suspect that if a woman lowers her daily calories from fat — to less than 20%-30% — her diet may help protect her from developing breast cancer.

So if being obese puts you at risk for breast cancer and eating food is what causes you to become obese, I’d say that food played a pretty direct role there. And let’s not forget that earlier this year, Breast Cancer Action similarly chastised one of their own, Susan G. Komen For the Cure, for partnering with KFC in “Buckets For the Cure.” Characterizing themselves as “the respected watchdog of the breast cancer movement,” one of their problems with the KFC partnership was that it exploited “breast cancer and [would] do the most harm in low income communities that are already disproportionately affected by health issues like obesity and diabetes, as well as breast cancer.” They went all out against them on their Think Before You Pink blog. Maybe not a direct reference to food, but they’re certainly linking food, obesity and breast cancer with KFC’s new pinkwashing campaign to “raise money for breast cancer” is half-cooked!

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Obviously, this story really pushed my buttons. Breast Cancer Action essentially is trying to invalidate the hard work of friends of mine who are sincerely trying to help find a cure for breast cancer and who have raised a lot of money in support of that cause. More than that, they’ve insulted those people for their sincere efforts. Quite frankly, I think they should be ashamed of themselves.

You can watch the entire story for yourself from MSNBC below.

Some Additional Thoughts: Since this post went online a few days ago, I was actually surprised to see that a lot of people shared my anger and frustration over this and similar experiences people have had. After reading the comments along with some experiences I’ve had with other charities, I’m really starting to believe that there’s now a “charitable industrial complex,” that these behemoth charities have become big business in their own right. And from what some of you have written, and from what I’ve seen, it appears that, like many big corporations, much of the profits go to the people who run them and only a little goes to shareholders, or in this case to the actual charitable cause itself. They seem to have become more about the money than the well-intentioned passion to do something about an issue that led to their formation. That’s a deeply disturbing trend.

Second, another thought occurred to me about how Breast Cancer Action was wrong to insult the alcohol community for their efforts. In the video from MSNBC, the piece opens by singling out Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Chambord for having programs designed to benefit breast cancer awareness. But what they didn’t ask was why? There are lots of worthy causes any company could choose to support. It’s possible it was just a calculated decision to ensnare more female drinkers, but there could be another, more personal, reason, too. All of the people in the brewing industry I know who do a lot for breast cancer, do so because breast cancer has touched their loves at some point. That’s why I’m passionate about the cause, and I suspect that that’s not an uncommon feeling. So it’s at least possible, I’d say even plausible, that Chambord decided to support breast cancer awareness because someone in the company or someone close to the company had breast cancer or knew someone who did. With so many available causes, people tend to pick the one that’s personal to them. My family tends to support Autism charities for the simple reason that our son Porter is autistic. I’d say that’s a pretty typical response. I’d be willing to say most charities are supported by the people who have been effected most by the diseases or issues at the heart of any particular charity.

According to the American Cancer Society, “[b]reast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States, other than skin cancer. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer. The chance of a woman having invasive breast cancer some time during her life is a little less 1 in 8. The chance of dying from breast cancer is about 1 in 35.” So that’s a lot of people and suggests that a large percentage of the population have been touched by breast cancer, either directly or indirectly. So I think it’s entirely likely that Chambord may have started their breast cancer awareness campaign precisely because someone in the company had an experience with breast cancer and wanted to do something about it. Perhaps it was to honor a loved one’s memory or perhaps to celebrate a survivor. We don’t know because Breast Cancer Action didn’t even bother to ask before lashing out at them for trying to do a good deed. As far as I can tell, they just assumed an evil intent but never asked the simple question “why.” My guess is they don’t actually care what the answer is, and asking it may have stopped their own quest for attention and publicity and donations.

Going Green For Charity

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Each year, Stone Brewing does a fun charity event where employees and fans dye their hair a particular color and ask people to pledge money to their charity — The Boys & Girls Club of San Marcos, Looks Like Me!, The Palomar Family YMCA and the Palomar Pomerado Health Foundation. I’ve considered it every year but each year I prove how lazy I really am, because I never do. But I like to at least support the efforts of those who do step up. This year the color was green, the color of hops. I could have given to a number of friends at Stone, like brewmaster Mitch Steele (who’s been my roomie for GABF judging) or co-founders Greg Koch and Steve Wagner. But instead I chose Dave Hopwood, who’s Stone’s northern California sales rep. I’d like to say it’s because he’s most deserving, but the reality is I saw his plea for donations on Twitter first a few weeks back. That being said, he certainly is deserving, and so is the charity. I see Dave a lot at local events and he’s a member of my Philopotes Society, too. Today he tweeted that’s he’s still short of his modest goal so I’m posting this in the hopes of helping him reach that goal. C’mon people, it’s for the kids. Anyway, to donate to his cause, visit his Stone Dye-Hards page. If you’d prefer to donate to another Stone Dye-Hard, check out the full list of Dye-Hards. But hurry, donations must be in by August 30.

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Dave Hopwood, gone green for charity.