‘Make beer, not war’

Profits from new beer to go directly to Ukrainian refugees

Raquette River Brewing brewers, from left, Kevin Connell, Tanner Hockey and Josh Weise hold their new Belgian ale brewed in support of Ukraine. All the profits from this beer will be donated to Ukrainian refugees through a local family with a family member living and volunteering in Poland. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

TUPPER LAKE — Printed on the can of a new Belgian ale beer at Raquette River Brewing is a simple message: “Make beer, not war.”

The local brewery plans to donate the profits from its new brew to help Ukrainian refugees fleeing Russia’s invasion of their country.

Raquette River Brewing co-owner Mark Jessie said that last month, he watched the war going on oversees, thought it was “unacceptable” and wondered if they could do anything. He brought it up with Raquette River Brewing staff and “everyone had ideas.”

The brewers are part of a craft beer professionals page on Facebook, where they learned about Pravda Brewing in Lviv, Ukraine. When the destruction started, Pravda shut down. It reached out to beer crafters around the world to “brew for Ukraine.”

Jessie said he loved the idea.

“It’s just the right thing to do,” he said.

But where to send the money?

Local connection to Poland

Everything came together when Jessie learned about Rebecca Pohl, a woman living in Warsaw, Poland who has family in Raquette Lake. She’s been deeply involved with helping Ukrainians fleeing violence in their home country who are seeking refuge and a new life in Poland.

Pohl has opened her apartment to numerous refugees to stay while they look for new homes, has raised tens of thousands of dollars and, as of Friday, had distributed $23,000 of it to refugees.

She’s making regular trips to supermarkets, filling cars with food, medical supplies, hygiene equipment and other essentials, and delivering them directly to refugees.

Jessie knows the Pohl family and said he glad to have a source for the funds where he knows the money is bring spent right. Pohl makes regular posts on her Facebook page, documenting the humanitarian effort, talks about the interesting people she’s working with and the Ukrainians they’re helping.

She said their operation has no overhead or administrative costs.

“I know if we send them money, every cent is going to go directly to them,” Jessie said.

He said it’s likely they’ll know exactly where the money from beer sales goes.

“It makes you a little more conscious when you’re drinking that beer, like, ‘wow,’ this is actually going to affect someone’s life,” Jessie said.

The brewers also said the awfulness of the war is augmented by all the local connections to Ukraine. There’s a man who stops into Raquette River Brewing whenever he’s at his camp in town who is from Ukraine. Brewer Josh Weise said his sister works in Watertown with a woman from Ukraine who still has family over there. She bought a case, and he said she was glad to see support for people like her family coming from the North Country.

About the beer

The recipe is influenced by European style-ales.

Brewer Tanner Hockey created the recipe, basing it partially on Pravda’s recipes. European style is more mellow than American beers, with less hops. The brewers described this ale as “a solid crusher.”

They brewed a 10-barrel batch, which Jessie said translates to 70 cases and three half-kegs. He estimates they’ll be able to raise a couple thousand dollars. Raquette River Brewing is also collecting donations in the beer hall.

Weise’s wife, Madison, designed the can art. Weise said she’s donating what she’d be paid for her work.

All profits from this brew will be donated directly to assist refugees.


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