I’ve long preached that the true power of craft beer is more important than sales figures and market shares; it’s the ability to fuel positive, tangible change in our very own backyard and make our local communities a better place to live. The Love Handle from Lancaster’s Brazen Brewing is the latest example of how our Western New York breweries are working to leave things better than they found them.

Just what is The Love Handle you ask? Every time a new beer gets hooked up to this special tap, $1 of every pint poured will be donated to a designated charity for that beer. It’s an exclusive beer that can only be found on tap at Brazen Brewing’s taproom.

“As long as we’ve had the idea for the brewery, I’ve known I’ve wanted to use the platform to give back to the community,” Brazen Owner Ashleigh Schaub said. “Drew and I both grew up in Western New York, went to college and graduated school and are raising our son here, so we’re highly invested in the area and know how fortunate we’ve been-now that we have a bit of a larger scale to use for good, it’s only right that we do so!”

The charitable promotion began last month with Rock Steady IPA, with donations going to the Parkinson’s Foundation. Schaub’s father, retired Marine Corps Sergeant Patrick Welch, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s several years ago. The response was a bit overwhelming.

“The first Love Handle recipient, the Parkinson’s Foundation, is important to me because my dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s a few years ago, and the foundation and its advocates have played a huge role in his treatment,” she says. “We made just under $2,000 for the Parkinson’s Foundation with Rock Steady IPA.”

Through sales of their Rock Steady IPA, Brazen Brewing was able to raise $1,911 for the Parkinson’s Foundation.

Schaub says the Love Handle was an easy way for the brewery to give back to causes that are near and dear to their heart, without having to throw big events. She says that this is just one way the brewery plans to use their craft beer to donate to good causes.

“We have plans to incorporate charitable giving into several different areas, but the Love Handle came about just from brainstorming some ideas of how we could give back in a small way without the pomp and circumstance of big events and lots of press and marketing,” Schaub explains. “It also allows us to compile a list of charities and causes that are important to not only us, but to our employees as well.”

When Brazen began putting feelers out into the community to put together a list of worthy causes, they were overwhelmed by how many of them exist right here in Western New York.

“When we reached out to friends, family and employees for their ideas of who to choose, it just made us realize how many people were doing such important work throughout the community with local charities and what big hearts there are out there. We’re grateful to know so many of these people and to just be able to provide a small platform for them to get some recognition and awareness for their causes.”

Brazen has also featured an amber ale called There’s A Light, a crisp and refreshing amber with notes of toasted bread, sweet malt and caramel nut, whose proceeds benefitted American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, a voluntary health organization that gives those affected by suicide a nationwide community empowered by research, education, and advocacy to take action against this leading cause of death.

On the Love Tap currently, you will find Ruff Morning, a coffee golden ale, which will benefit Buffalo CARES Animal Rescue. The non- profit organization is dedicated to the rescue of animals who provides safe foster homes with all the necessary veterinary care, training, socialization and support to develop a well balanced family companion.

“In all honesty, I think one of the reasons I love the local beer scene so much is the huge focus on community and charitable giving,” she said. “I think it’s really special, and I don’t know too many other industries like it. Maybe because breweries have always been such an integral part of the small neighborhoods they’ve served. Our program may be a slightly more unique take, but we’re just one of many out there trying to do good and give back. We’re proud to be a part of it and hope as we grow that we can continue to find ways to make an even bigger impact!”

For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/BrazenBrewCo.

***Photos courtesy of Brazen Brewing

Brian Campbell is co-founder and Brand Manager of the Buffalo Beer League, and writes the weekly Buffalo Beer Buzz column. If you have beer news that should be included in the Beer Buzz, Brian can be reached at brian@buffalobeerleague.com, on Twitter (@buffbeerleague), Instagram (@buffalobeerleague), and Facebook (@thebuffalobeerleague).