There are many parts of our lives COVID has made us appreciate a little more; and one thing lockdowns and a lack of international travel have really driven a deeper love for in many is the natural world that surrounds us.
Australia's national parks might be protected and funded by different levels of government but supporting them – and pushing for more land to be saved – is the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife, an organisation that aims to safeguard Australia’s wilderness and wildlife for future generations. And supporting that charity in turn are Matt Harris and Carl Rickards, via their brewing company For The Road, which donates 20 percent of proceeds from the sale of Park Draught to the foundation.
“We love the outdoors and going out on the water or for a bushwalk,” Matt says. “The environment is important to us, so we wanted to do something with that and, in Australia, national parks are how we interact with the environment.”
The brewing company launched close to a year and a half ago with a keg beer known simply as Draught; it was a choice that left For The Road particularly exposed when COVID hit the country.
“We were only in draught and we were getting a bit of momentum, and then the first round of lockdowns hit and it essentially wiped out most of our sales,” Matt says.
Not to be deterred, the pair tweaked that beer's recipe, relaunched it in cans alongside kegs, and renamed it Park Draught to better capture where the proceeds of sales are going. The beer itself is an easy-drinking kolsch, with no prizes for guessing where the founders think it might be best enjoyed.
“The way we thought about it is, if you’re going on a hike or something, then this is the kind of beer you’d put a six-pack of in your backpack,” Matt says.
Park Draught is brewed at The Marsden Brewhouse in Sydney’s outer west, and Matt says they have plans for more beers in the future that will look to fundraise for other charity partners too.
“We want to align the beers with different organisations,” he says. “The next beer might not be to the national parks but might be to reef conservation or that type of thing so that we’re able to do more.
“We both have proper jobs and do this in our spare time, but we started this because we wanted to do something good.”
Doing good through beer isn’t new, but using it as a way to fundraise has come a long way from selling ice-covered tins at school fêtes. The likes of Brewmanity, the Good Beer Co, Local Brewing Co and others have made fundraising part of their core mission; Matt says though margins can be tight on the smaller side of the beer world, craft beer drinkers are a selective bunch and that discernment often goes beyond just what they enjoy in a beer.
“I hope people have the same kind of thoughts about the preservation of the natural world and doing something tangible like we do.”
And you can find hundreds of other breweries and good beer venues across Australia in the free Crafty Pint app.