/ Modified jul 18, 2013 11:15 a.m.

Brewing to Aid 19 Hotshots' Families

Arizona breweries making a special beer in honor of the Yarnell Fire fallen, all proceeds going to charity.


Groups across Arizona have been looking for ways to help the families of the 19 firefighters who died in the Yarnell Hill Fire more than two weeks ago.

The Arizona Craft Brewers Guild is among those who want to help.

The guild is made up of 35 craft breweries from around the state. And, they are pitching in to brew a special beer they are calling, 'Heroes 19.'

All proceeds from the beer will go to the Prescott Firefighters Charities to help the families of the perished Granite Mountain Hotshots.

“We knew we wanted to do something,” said Michael Marquess, guild president. “We kicked around some ideas, and what we came up with was a collaboration beer.”

Craft breweries can be neighborhood fixtures, so when a community goes through a tragedy, local breweries often feel the pain just as much as residents.

“Breweries are often community driven,” says Tristan White of Dragoon Brewing, a guild brewery, “That’s especially true in northern Arizona; with smaller towns, more people know each other.”

And, since many firefighters are often young men, it’s not uncommon for breweries to become well acquainted with them.

“Firefighters, police, all those first responders are our folks,” said Marquess, who also owns Mother Road Brewing in Flagstaff.

In fact, there was a connection between one of the hotshots and the largest brewery in the Prescott area.

“One of the guys who died in the fire actually worked at Prescott Brewing for a couple of years,” White said. “It made sense that they’d be the leader in this project."

Prescott Brewing Company will be the location that'll sell the Heroes 19 brew. The head brewers are traveling up to Prescott starting Thursday to start the beer’s first batch.

Marquess looks forward to the brew.

“Collaboration brews are a lot of fun," he said. "This one is a little more comber than normal because of why we’re brewing it, but it’s a great chance to get together with our colleagues, and for everyone to do a part, whether it’s throwing a valve, pitching hops in, (our our favorite), getting in the tank and cleaning up afterwards.”

The first batch will be 60 barrels, or about 120 kegs worth of beer.

If each 12-once beer is sold for $4, that would translate to a total of about $80,000.

And, all of that money is going to the hotshots' families.

The exact recipe won’t be hammered out until the brewers get together, but the details that have been laid out hold special meaning.

Nineteen of the breweries have donated different varieties of hops to put in the beer, and the beer will be a 19 on the beer color scale, making it an American brown ale.

That last statement may have caught beer junkies a little off guard because brown ales are not usually hoppy beers.

White had trouble coming up with a beer that would taste similar.

“I would think of Dogfish Head’s India Brown," he said. "That’s the only one I’ve had that’s been pretty hop-forward. There’s not a ton of super-hoppy browns, they’re usually more on the malty side.”

That means Heroes 19 will be a chance for beer drinkers to try something unique, and partake in a good cause.

The brewers said that since this is a pilot batch, they can’t be sure of when it will be ready, but they believe it could be delivered by the end of July or early August.

Once the beer is done, the Prescott Brewing Company’s distributor will deliver it around the state.

It will be available at the guild's breweries that are licensed to sell alcohol not made on-site, as well as other bars and restaurants in the state.

Also, people who don’t like beer will also have a chance to contribute to the project.

The guild is asking people to ‘buy a pint for our heroes,’ and make a donation directly to the charities.

If people are unable to buy a pint at one of the places selling them, they can go to the guild's web site and purchase one.

If the guild is happy with the product, and it is a successful fundraiser, they may brew another batch of Heroes 19, once again, with proceeds going to the hotshots' families.

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