On November 8, one of the most destructive fires in our nation’s history started in Chico, California, near the Sierra Nevada brewery. Before it was contained, the Camp Fire burned up 153,000 acres, killing 85 people and destroying more than 14,000 buildings. The Sierra Nevada brewery itself wasn’t affected, but the company decided to pitch in with its Resilience Butte County Proud IPA. Instead of just brewing a single batch for charity relief efforts, Sierra Nevada made the Resilience recipe publicly available and put out the call for other breweries nationwide to brew the IPA and donate the proceeds to help victims affected by the fire. So far, more than 1,400 breweries have responded, including several here in Arkansas. For the moment, the only place you can get Resilience in Little Rock is from Buffalo Brewing Company at The Water Buffalo on Rodney Parham.
“When we found out about it, we knew we wanted to be a part of it,” said Buffalo Brewing owner Nolen Buffalo. “We weren’t sure exactly how it was going to all pan out, but we wanted to commit to it early on. It was just too easy a thing to commit to, and for us, it was going to be a good experience. We were going to do something that’s big.”
Buffalo and his team quickly got to work on the recipe, which is made using some highly available brewing ingredients. The yeast is a standard issue strain from the West Coast that almost all brewers have easy access to. The hops are Cascade and Centennial, which are also commonly used in multiple styles. Two-row barley and a little Crystal malt finish off what is an easy-drinking beer.
“I think they did that on purpose,” said Buffalo. “They really wanted to move this beer, and for that, they needed one that a lot of people would enjoy. Too much hops, you’re only appealing to a small segment of beer drinkers. But this one, I think a lot of people will find enjoyable.”
And a lot of people already have. In the first eight days it was on tap, Buffalo Brewing sold four kegs of Resilience IPA. As of publishing time, they had sold six kegs. For reference, most of Buffalo’s beers take four times as long to sell. Buffalo is holding back a keg for a Resilience Day event on Jan. 26, which is something he didn’t think that he would have to do.
“For us, it’s really crazy,” said Buffalo. “We have some beers that we can count on moving about a keg a week. Going into the fourth keg on the eighth day, that makes me feel good. It lets me know that we can serve some beer if we can get people in to try it.”
Those of us who write about beer frequently talk about the “magic” of craft beer, and this is a great example. It would be difficult to come up with another industry that could work together like this in communities around the country for a common goal. Sierra Nevada estimates that more than 4 million pints of Resilience IPA will be sold nationwide by March, and every penny of the proceeds will go to the victims of the fire. It’s something Buffalo is proud to be a part of.
“The brewing community is tight,” said Buffalo. “We’re all pretty good to each other, especially when somebody has their shoe on our throat. In this case, it was Mother Nature, but we’re usually pretty fast to respond to each other. And it’s amazing to see it across the country. We’re all a community, as it turns out.”
Currently, Resilience IPA is available in Arkansas at Buffalo Brewing, Slate Rock in Amity, Rapp’s Barren in Mountain Home, and Ozark Beer Company in Rogers. It is scheduled to arrive at Lost Forty on Jan. 21, and close to a dozen other breweries in the state have committed to brewing Resilience in the coming weeks. Buffalo Brewing will hold a Resilience Day party on Saturday, Jan. 26. Make sure you get a glass of this important beer before it sells out.