Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Rock On brewing nonprofit in your city with your help

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Thats in the way. I knew what you were going to write in the comment section about Rock On. I’m afraid I meant to do this anyway — get it out of the way, I guess — but I’ve been so busy with the sweeps schedule and with all the other work we’re doing here in Rockville and in the DC market that I’ve kept my eye on this post for a while now.

Today, I feel compelled to talk about Rock On. It’s a grassroots organization focused on addressing the health issues plaguing musicians, including hip ailments and certain types of cancers. Anybody can join, and Rock On’s promoting the awareness, education and advocacy that are its hallmark.

Rock On beers are an initiative that has given people a mission to organize some funding and support for those issues. According to their site, they brewed their first beer in 1997 with the “ultimate rock and roll fantasy” of musicians, teams, and a brewer. Since then, they’ve brewed their Red Shield Rye IPA in Houston. When the Red Shield strain of yeast “developed” the sweet, caramel-like flavor that, according to their Facebook page, is most associated with the beer, Rock On discovered a brewing strain of yeast that had been isolated in Native American forests.

Then they sought to give that yeast a “Northern Hemisphere taste” by brewing it with the hops that are used for their traditional beers, and they put a giant brewery press on it. Rock On says:

The process to grow our yeast in the beer was a messy one: we spent a lot of time brewing with a big, heavy press and using a few umber hop canisters to collect that precious “seed-top” vial of yeast, which cost around $400 a head to grow. People were discouraged from tasting our brews for a long time because we couldn’t get our yeast to grow well enough to then get back into our brewing supply, and we had this equipment sitting in storage for a long time.

We finally heard back from the FDA a couple of years ago, however, after confirming that other brewing companies had been using this yeast strain on certain beers, and after refining our fermentation process, we came up with Red Shield Rye IPA in Houston.

One of the leads Rock On noticed was the Northwestern Brewers and Resorters Festival in Minnesota.

“I don’t think Rock On really appreciated the pull this festival had until they started hosting it,” said Neil Ballantyne, who co-founded the festival in 2005 and currently runs it.

When others realized that Rock On had made this beer, they wanted to do something to support them. So, they started a campaign called ourRock.Co. And it’s still ongoing. Today, at a Solid Sound Festival in Chicago, they’ll have their Red Shield Rye IPA on the grounds and they’ll put together awards for the people who are determined to be the biggest advocates.

Even though Rock On didn’t ask for assistance in all this, this seems like a great idea for other breweries. Rock On will be the biggest beneficiary from the beer — it’s why they didn’t pay the salaries for their staff in this case — but when you think about all the other causes that would benefit from some help from the beer industry, there’s a lot of scope here.

If you’re in a state that has a brewery producing Red Shield Rye IPA and would like a copy of Rock On’s beer, you can visit their website. You can also check out the website of Solid Sound, the Chicago-based festival.

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