John Pankauski, owner of West Palm Beach Brewery & Wine Vault, is releasing a beer for Cinco de Mayo that's a tribute to America's "Dreamers."
The brewery will jump into the DACA political arena May 2 with the release of its Mexican lager aptly dubbed Dreamers Lager. "I know that politics can be risky business," Pankauski says, "but I felt this was too important an issue to remain silent on."
With no money, no skills, and very little English, Pankauski's grandparents emigrated from Poland and Lithuania at the turn of the last century. They suffered discrimination from Americans who saw European immigrants as a threat.
Pankauski originally wanted to craft a simple Mexican lager, but during the process, inspiration struck and he decided he would craft a beer that was bigger than just another release for Cinco de Mayo. He wanted to create a beer with a message.
“People risk their lives in boats, hiking over fields and desserts, to make a better life for themselves and their families,” he says. “In South Florida, we have many people from the Caribbean and Central and South America who, like my grandparents, arrived by ships or rafts, dreaming of a better life. Ponce de Leon was one of our first immigrants in the 1500s. Whether you’re from Spain, Poland, Syria, or Haiti, we are all immigrants.”
Pankauski created a special image, which will be printed on a limited-edition Dreamers T-shirt available for free to the first 50 people who purchase a glass of Dreamers Lager and say the phrase, “I am a Dreamer too.”
The lager’s image includes Lady Liberty at the center, surrounded by barley, hops, monarch butterflies, and a raft full of people. Pankauski chose a raft rather than an immigrant ship like the one his grandparents took. “Regardless of how you got here," he says, "we are all in the same boat today.”
“A monarch butterfly migrates from Mexico to the U.S. Some believe that the monarch has a spiritual connection to Cinco de Mayo. It will serve as an important symbol,” Pankauski says. “After all, coming here, working hard, and making it is who we are. That’s our spirit. It’s not an immigration issue; it’s a patriotic issue. We should support those who make the journey that our ancestors made before.”
Mexican lager has a unique style and flavor characteristics, influenced by a Vienna lager probably made by German and Austrian immigrants who arrived in Texas and Mexico in the 1800s. Craft brewers put their own touch on the Mexican lager.
"Our Dreamers Lager is brewed with pilsner and Vienna malts, flaked maize, and organic blue agave nectar to add a touch of honey-like sweetness to a light, crisp, refreshing brew which we have lagered for weeks. You will taste freedom. I guarantee," Pankauski says.
On Saturday, May 5, Cinco de Mayo, Pankauski will donate 100 percent of all gross sale proceeds of the first 100 Dreamers Lager he sells to Americans for Immigrant Justice. Its mission is to protect and promote the basic human rights of immigrants and to bring about an American society where immigrants are not subjected to abuse or injustice, are not afraid to seek help, have a fair opportunity to make their case in the system that governs them, and have their contributions valued and encouraged.
Dreamers Lager will be available only at the brewery beginning at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 2.
West Palm Beach Brewery & Wine Vault. 332 Evernia St., West Palm Beach; 561-619-8813; westpalmbeer.com. Monday through Wednesday 4 to 10 p.m., Thursday and Friday 4 to 11 p.m., Saturday 1 to 11 p.m., and Sunday 1 to 10 p.m.