New Jersey

Friends Giving is a Collaboration That Feeds the Hungry

Headed to a Friendsgiving celebration? Maybe you're trolling Pinterest, looking for the most fabulous vegan side. (Extra points if you use turmeric or oat milk!)

Or perhaps you set aside a few bottles of good wine from that winery tour this summer or will selflessly dig into your White Claw stash.

But what if you could show up at Friendsgiving with Friends Giving? And what if your hostess gift also helped take a bite out of hunger this holiday season?

For the second year, four area breweries are collaborating on a single beer, Friends Giving "Potluck-Style" Hazy IPA. The beer is packaged in stylish four-pack cans that will pop up soon in New Jersey and Pennsylvania liquor stores.

Brewed at Double Nickel Brewing Co. in Pennsauken, Friends Giving is a collaboration with Tonewood Brewing Co. of Oaklyn, Cape May Brewing Co. of Lower Township and Urban Village Brewing Co. of Philadelphia.

It's called a "Potluck-Style" beer because, instead of sweet potatoes with roasted marshmallows or a pumpkin pie, each brewer brought his brewery's hops to the party (this year, that's Amarillo, Cashmere, Vic Secret and Centennial).

The project is part of Collabor-AID, Double Nickel's non-profit committed to fighting food insecurity in our area.

John Dalsey, marketing director for Double Nickel, called hunger a "keystone issue."

"We chose food insecurity as a focus because it's really hard to tackle any of the other problems you might face if you don't really know where your next meal is coming from. It's all over the country and in every kind of neighborhood. So this is about creativity and using our craft in a way that is really cool and makes people excited and raises awareness about the issue."

Proceeds of Friends Giving draft and retail sales will benefit three regional non-profits: Cathedral Kitchen of Camden, Virtua's Mobile Farmers Market and Philabundance of Philadelphia.

Last October, the same breweries teamed up to brew the first Friends Giving beer. Sales of that brew raised $40,856 for area hunger relief organizations, according to Dalsey. Some proceeds were used by Cathedral Kitchen to install a new $10,000 industrial dishwasher in their Camden kitchen, which feeds 125,000 guests, many of them homeless, annually.

According to Dalsey, when Dietz and Watson of Philadelphia learned of the project, they raised that total to $75,326, with the additional donation coming in the form of high-protein food items such as chickens and turkeys. They are on board again this year.

This is the second time Double Nickel and Collabor-AID is working on behalf of the Virtua Mobile Farmers Market. The brewery partnered with Whole Foods and Fruitwood Orchards in the spring to brew the Bee's Knee's IPA in support that organization.

Friends Giving IPA isn't just "friendly" in name — many of these guys are long-time friends and support each other's breweries.

Collaborating on the project are Drew Perry, Double Nickel co-founder and head brewer; Chris Henke, co-owner of Cape May Brewing Company; Eli Facchinei, co-founder and head brewer of Tonewood Brewing Company, and Dave Goldman, owner and head brewer of Urban Village.

According to Double Nickel Sales Director Brian Needham, cans and kegs will go to bars, restaurants and liquor stores throughout New Jersey, Philadelphia and its five surrounding counties on Nov. 4.

Last year's batch sold out in a matter of days, Dalsey said.

Three launch events are planned to introduce this year's Friends Giving brew:

— Saturday, Nov. 2: Friends Giving Potluck-Style Hazy IPA will be released at a "Meet the People Behind Friends Giving" party at Double Nickel from 3 to 6 p.m. Brewers from all four breweries will be on hand, as well as representatives of the benefiting charities and other businesses that donated supplies or ingredients. A food truck will be on site.

— Saturday, Nov. 9: A second Friends Giving party will be held at Urban Village as part of Northern Liberties Second Saturday festivities. Live music will be offered from 1 to 4 p.m. Urban Village will offer pint glass screen printings, and brewery representatives will be on hand to offer samples of their beers. Friends Giving will be on tap and four-packs will be for sale take home.

— Sunday, Nov. 15: Friends Giving Party in South Jersey (location TBD). We are working out the details with a bar in South Jersey for this event but it has not been finalized yet.

Donations are why Friends Giving was able to make such a big impact, Dalsey said.

Friends Giving is also possible thanks to donations from: Rabbit Hill Malt House and Country Malt Group (malt); Yakima Chief (hops); Can Source (can printing); PakTech (four-pack carriers); Zuckerman Honickman (cans); Mid-Atlantic Packaging Inc. (boxes), and Kramer Beverage and Ritchie & Page Distribution.

Dalsey said the aim is to build on last year's success. The partners brewed 150 barrels of Friends Giving and will distribute 1,200 cases of beer.

"Twice as many cases, twice as much beer, still in the potluck-style," he said. "We each showed up with different hops and figured out how to brew it that day with malt and oats and a little bit of rye to tie into the fall season."

Double Nickel's Perry said "most of the hops are pretty citrus-based. Our donated hops are all Amarillo and Cashmere. Everyone else brought hops that complemented them."

The can design has the same groovy '70s feel as last year.

Henke, from Cape May Brewing, Chris said the project is an extension of his brewery's core values.

"We have seven that we live by every day. One is to be a good neighbor. It's about giving back to the community. And it's really impressive that our suppliers get involved to make this really stand out.

"We do a few collaborations every year. It's fun to get into other people's breweries instead of being stuck in your own brewery all the time . . . and in the end, we are going to have a really awesome beer."

Goldman, of Urban Village, said the collaboration is also inspiring because brewers learn more about what everyone else is doing.

"One of the reasons I got into this is the sense of community . . . When you get together and do something like this, it really validates why I got into this. In the context of a brewery, and what it is we make, there's not always the greatest opportunity to use what we make to benefit people in need. We are thrilled to continue to be a part of it."

Tonewood's Facchinei said the best part of the project is getting out into the communities of other breweries.

"I think all of our breweries are pretty focused on being an integral part of our communities. This allows us to connect all of these communities, to connect all of our fans out there by inspiring them to participate by purchasing this beer for people who need support during this time of year when most people are getting together and celebrating.

"And it goes without saying that it's hats off to the guys at Double Nickel for doing this. They've done the brunt of the work here, so thank you!"

Spoken like a true Friend.

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