A number of Australian craft breweries are taking part in global efforts to support those impacted by war in Ukraine. A collaboration between two SA brewers and a local distillery took place this week, while today sees Dangerous Ales, based on the NSW South Coast, release their Ukrainian Imperial Stout.
In the days following Russia's invasion, a number of calls were issued for fundraising support for Ukrainians: the newly-formed Drinkers For Ukraine put forward a number of ideas, including a solidarity brew called Resist; and Pravda Brewery, located in Lviv, in Ukraine’s west, invited others to brew a beer for their countrymen and women.
The small brewery – whose name is Russian for “truth” – made global headlines after switching production from beer to Molotov cocktails and shared five of their recipes and graphics for other breweries to use. Their call for help has been answered by three South Australian businesses, with Prancing Pony, Barossa Valley Brewing and Route 9 Distillery joining forces to create the aptly-renamed Puck Futin.
They've chose to brew a version of Pravda’s red ale, with the collaboration spearheaded by Rob Watt, the co-founder of Route 9 Distillery with a family connection to Ukraine.
“[My wife's] family came out here during the Second World War,” Rob says. “It’s not only very personal but it also feels like it's reliving itself because it’s almost this same generation that escaped last time seeing it all again.”
Rob says they've found it difficult to get money to family members in Ukraine, most of whom are in Lviv, as the country has become largely cashless since the invasion, meaning people are unable to withdraw money transferred to them. Thus, with the Puck Futin collab they wanted to make sure support would go to people directly on the ground; some of the money raised will go to Médecins Sans Frontières, with the rest directed to Ukrainian refugees arriving in Australia.
“We’re talking about people who have just closed their door and walked off and jumped on a plane, flown here and have nothing,” Rob says. “It’s so heartbreaking.”
Rob has enjoyed Pravda’s beers in the past, although hasn’t had the chance to try the red ale, and says it’s remarkable how the Ukrainian brewers have united their peers across the world given what they’re going through.
“It’s such a noble thing that they’re doing and a greater thing than anything that we could be doing,” he says. "To hand a recipe out to everyone in the hope they do the right thing, that’s a phenomenal thing too.
“If you can give to a great cause and drink beer at the same time then I think that’s a win-win situation.”
The Adelaide Hill distillery launched last year and their short history has been closely tied to Prancing Pony, who make Route 9’s wash for whisky. The brewery's founders, Corinna Steeb and Frank Samson, were quick to lend their support for this project and shared his sense of history repeating itself, having grown up in Germany during the Cold War. Denham D'Silva quickly committed to Barossa Valley Brewing to the project too, with one batch being brewed at Barossa and another at Prancing Pony, while CCL Label and Black Squid Design were eager to support the collab too.
"I wanted to try and do something just for me and asked if they’d be willing to help out,” Rob says.
"It’s phenomenal how many people have come on board and wanted to help and try and do something for the people of Ukraine.”
Beer drinkers and retailers have been quick to join the cause too: 10,000 litres of beer was pre-sold in less than 36 hours, while t-shirts featuring the beer label are set to further aid their fundraising effort.
The South Australian collaborators aren’t alone either – New South Wales’ Dangerous Ales are releasing a beer in support of Ukraine today. Typically, during this time of year, the South Coast brewers would be creating a Russian imperial stout; this year's release is instead the 9 percent ABV Ukrainian Imperial Stout, with one dollar from each of the 5,000 cans sold going to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which is working with women and children impacted by the war.
Like Rob, Damien’s choice of charity was driven in part by personal reasons; as a child, he spent some time growing up in a women’s refuge after his mother fled his father.
“I wanted to do my bit, give back and try and help people who have no choice either,” he told The Crafty Pint.
Dangerous Ales frequently put on community kegs to help local charities, including one recent fundraiser directed towards flood relief for those impacted in the state’s north. So, while fundraising isn't new for them, Damien says the Ukrainian Imperial Stout has garnered interest from further afield, with the beer has already sold out at time of writing.
“We’ve had a lot of response from people in the beer industry, a lot of bottleshops have wanted to jump on board,” he says.
“With a community keg we try to help the community and, for this, there’s been a really wide audience.”
Cans of Puck Futin are already sold out via Beer Cartel, but more will be available in South Australia from the businesses involved and from good beer retailers in that state. Anyone hoping to try the beer on tap can head to Barossa Valley Brewery, Prancing Pony Brewery in Totness, or the latter's Rundle Street venue from April 22.
If any other Australian drinks or hospitality businesses are fundraising in support of Ukraine, drop us a line and we can help spread the word.
South Australia's Western Ridge Brewing and close to 30 wineries were involved in a For Ukraine fundraiser at La Buvette Drinkery on March 27 which raised nearly $10,000 for World Central Kitchen to support refugees. The brewery is also making an anti-Imperial stout and we'll provide details of the launch once they're available.
Brisbane's Baccus Brewing have also answered the call from Pravda Beer, brewing two kegs each of their dark beers, Smoked Cherry Porter and Ukrainian Stout with their anticipated release date being April 14.