Next month, South Florida beer lovers can do more than sip a good brew. They can help contribute to the Ukrainian aid efforts thanks to a special release called "Beer for Bombs."
On February 24, the day Russia invaded Ukraine, Lviv-based Pravda Brewery ceased brewing operations and began bottling something a little more potent: Molotov cocktails.
Pravda owner Yuri Zastavny says the move from peaceful brewer to emboldened patriot felt necessary.
"The idea to make Molotov cocktails was pretty spontaneous. When we first heard the news of the attack, our brew team decided we can't just do nothing," says Zastavny, who also used the homemade incendiary devices during the 2014 Maidan protests. "It was an easy decision to switch from beer to bombs. We are peaceful brewers, but this is pretty much the time when you mobilize yourself, look at your skills and knowledge, and decide to do what you can to contribute."
Over the past few weeks, Pravda Brewery has made thousands of Molotov cocktails — approximately 2,500 per batch — and supplied them to local civil-defense forces. Additional batches were shipped directly to Kyiv.
On March 5, Zastavny posted to the Pravda website, releasing the recipes and graphics for five of his beers while calling upon fellow brewers to make beer for Ukraine. The brews include a dry-hopped ale, "Putin Huylo"; "Syla," a Belgian tripel; "Red Eyes," an American red ale; "Frau Ribbentrop," a Belgian witbier; and "From San to Don," a Ukrainian imperial stout.
online fundraising effort set up by former Pravda brewer Cory McGuiness that will be used to feed Ukrainian refugees and local civil-defense forces in the western Ukraine city of Lviv.
"We’ve had a huge response and it’s very touching and emotional. So many people are brewing our beers, and we are halfway to our $50,000 goal," Zastavny reports. "To everyone supporting us, I tell them this: 'We are fighting for the future of places like Finland, Poland, and Taiwan. If this dictatorship gets what they want, that's going to encourage dictatorships in many countries to act as Russia is doing. If my generation doesn't do something now, then our children will have to do it. The Russians need to know they are not fighting the Ukrainian military alone. They are fighting all of us.'"
Locally, Pompano Beach-based 26 Degree Brewing Co. is making a collaboration brew using Pravda’s imperial stout recipe to benefit "Brew for Ukraine."
"Breweries are community centers and should do what they can whenever possible," 26 Degree co-owner Yonathan Ghersi tells New Times. "We are lucky to do what we love for a living, and giving back is our way to show our appreciation."
26 Degree head brewer Jason Ferreira says that although the beer, dubbed Beer for Bombs, is still fermenting, it is already proving to be an intensely complex stout with a rich, malty flavor and notes of chocolate and coffee.
"We really wanted to remain as true to Pravda's recipe as possible, even going so far as to re-create their exact water profile as best we could," Ferreira says. "As a contract brewery, I look at another brewer's recipe as their baby, one that should be treated with the utmost respect. Given the gravity of the situation in Ukraine right now, it was an honor to brew this beer."
A Beer for Bombs official release party is scheduled for Saturday, May 7. The party will include free food provided by Flanagan’s, discounted beer flights, a tasting lesson, and a recorded message from the owners of Pravda Brewery in Lviv.
At the event, Beer for Bombs will available on draft for $8 a glass, with all proceeds earmarked for Pravda. The first 50 people in line to buy the beer will receive one free to-go can. After the release party, you'll be able to find Beer for Bombs at select locations in Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe counties. A four-pack of 16-ounce cans will sell for $16, and for every four-pack sold, $12 will go directly to the Pravda Brewery. Additionally, proceeds from every Beer for Bombs T-shirt will go to Pravda to produce more Molotov cocktails.
The event was coordinated by Broward Beer blogger Joe Pye and Society of Professional Journalists southeast associate regional coordinator Gillian Manning, who helped to introduce 26 Degree to Pravda Brewery's fundraising initiative and to organize the Beer for Bombs fundraiser.
Beer for Bombs Release Party. 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday, May 7, at 26 Degree Brewing Company, 2600 E. Atlantic Blvd., Pompano Beach; beerforbombs.com.