Soon you can drink Hardywood beer for a great cause, and who can argue with that?
Hardywood Park has been confirmed as a brewer for Ales for ALS, an annual program wherein selected breweries across the country create beers that fundraise for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Through Ales for ALS, which donates $1 per pint to ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI), you can enjoy a new Hardywood brew and feel all warm and fuzzy inside thanks to the beer and philanthropy when the yet-to-be-named brew gets released this July or August.
The goal of Ales for ALS is to raise over $1 million or roughly 10 percent of ALS TDI’s research budget by providing participating breweries with a designated hop blend, free of charge, and donating a portion of proceeds to research. ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord and affects approximately 5,000 people each year.
Hardywood’s involvement hits close to home; Patrick Murtaugh, the brewery’s co-owner, lost his uncle to ALS in 2004.
"He started a software company in Chicago in the '80s and I always had a lot of admiration for him as an entrepreneur and business owner who was just an all-around good guy," says Murtaugh. "So, the opportunity to now raise some money and hopefully awareness for the disease that he lost his battle with, through Hardywood, means a lot to me.”
Murtaugh approached the organization in the hopes of being part of the fundraiser, though not all breweries that make such a request are selected, due to the limited quantity of the hop blend distributed.
The 2015 blend is primarily composed of Equinox hops, which can be found in beer such as Sierra Nevada's Harvest Single Hop IPA or Brooklyn Brewery's Brooklyn Scorcher #366 and is aggressively sought within the brewing community. Big beer names helped bring this blend to life, like Bear Republic Brewing Co.'s Rob Kent, Bell's Brewing Co.'s John Mallett, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.'s Ken & Brian Grossman and Beachwood BBQ and Brewing's Julian Shrago.
Ales for ALS, which launched in 2013, is run by Loftus Ranches and Hopunion. Loftus Ranches is a family owned hop farm in Washington state's Yakima Valley, and HopUnion is a grower-owned hop supplier that connects hop farmers to hop users.
Hollister Lindley, a local and national food writer, has been battling the disease since her diagnosis in 2011. Lindley, whose battle has been chronicled in a series of articles in the Richmond Times Dispatch, is thrilled about the fundraiser.
“Perhaps we should look at hops to see if they have health benefits on the disease,” she jokes. “Ice water raised an amazing amount of awareness. Imagine what beer could do.”