Big Grove to donate proceeds from new beer to Iowa Restaurant Association Employee Relief Fund

Big Grove Brewery will begin selling a new beer called, “All Together,” while donating proceeds to the Iowa Restaurant Association Employee Relief Fund.

Contributed

Contributed

Marissa Smith, News Reporter


Iowa City- and Solon-based brewery and restaurant Big Grove Brewery is set to donate proceeds from its newest beer to a relief fund for out-of-work Iowans.

Funds from the new beer, called “All Together”, will go to the Iowa Restaurant Association’s Employee Relief Fund, designed to help those out of a job in the hospitality and food-service industry in Iowa due to state-mandated business closures to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Big Grove Brewery itself couldn’t avoid the financial hardship restaurants have faced in the past few months.  Big Grove’s staff took a large hit from COVID-19, and many front-house employees were laid off, said Andy Joynt, head brewer at Big Grove Brewery.

But the business’ owners wanted to give back.

“We’re in the hospitality industry. We saw how much it affected our staff and we’re still in position to sell beer and limp along,” said Doug Goettsch, co-founder and managing partner at the Solon location. “Anything we can do to help we figured it was an easy no brainer.”

Created after business closure orders came down from the state in March, the Employee Relief Fund has raised about $20,000 in donations so far for struggling businesses and employees, said Stacy Kluesner, vice president of the Iowa Restaurant Association.

“It’s their entire world — it’s their present, it’s their future, it’s their retirement, and they’re losing it,” Kluesner said. “They’re seeing it slip through their fingers.”

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Any employee in the state of Iowa who works full time in the hospitality and restaurant industry can apply to receive aid from the Employee Relief Fund. Employees must have been working during the state-mandated closure and have worked in the industry for at least 90 days, Kluesner said.

The association will begin granting aid on a first-come, first-serve basis in the coming weeks. Grants will be awarded in $250 increments, Kluesner said.

Those who receive a grant can use the money however they need to help them during this time, Kluesner said.

“It’s a way to bridge the gap for people who are struggling,” Kluesner said.

A well-respected brewery based in Brooklyn, NY, Other Half Brewery, founded the beer-money effort and shared their new beer recipe with other breweries nationwide, urging them to donate proceeds to help the hospitality industry, Joynt said. Almost 700 breweries across the nation are participating in the project.

Joynt saw this opportunity as a great way to help out those who were struggling, and began brewing and selling “All Together,” a hazy IPA beer, out of Big Grove’s Iowa City and Solon locations, as well as Lua Brewing in Des Moines, IA.

For every four-pack sold, Joynt said, Big Grove will donate $5 of the proceeds to the fund.

“I recognized right away that we were in a pretty unique position, the canning line and distribution into groceries has made it kind of easier,” Joynt said. “We had a built-in outlet to sell beer. We had to take our advantageous position and use it to help out and help others who are struggling.”

Big Grove intends to sell the entire batch and donate $1,500 to the Employee Relief Fund in the coming weeks, Joynt said.

“You have to help when you’re in a position to help,” Goettsch said. That’s what it’s all about.”

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