Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Beer - an Inspiring Story of Voluntarism in Action

Americans may not care about saving their liberty but that doesn't mean they don't have their priorities and saving their beer supply brought a community together in an inspiring story that accomplished something the government never could have accomplished - saving 13,000 gallons of beer from going down the sewer pipe because of a power failure.

The Atlantic Cities documents how a community through voluntary cooperation and without government intervention came together to solve a problem.

How the Threat of Losing Beer Unites a Community
If you want to see a community come together at lightning speed, threaten its supply of beer.

This law of nature was on display recently in the wake of June 29's derecho, a line of obese thunderstorms that gunned over America with the power of Steve Austin throwing a clothesline from a motorcycle. When the 80 m.p.h. winds had finally departed, at least 22 people lay dead, power grids had sputtered and failed, and entire neighborhoods looked like they suffered a direct hit from bombs packed with broken branches and trampolines.

In Northern Virginia, Bill Butcher started the day by learning that his mom's car had been crushed by a fallen tree. After dealing with that mess, he headed in to his office at Port City Brewing, an industrial Alexandria microbrewery he founded in 2011 between a wrecking business and a sausage-making factory.

A quick scan confirmed his fears: Electric wires hung broken and the warehouse was dark. That was a problem, because inside he had six huge tanks of still-green beer fermenting in gentle stasis. With the glycol-based cooling system offline, the liquid was slowly heating up and would eventually hit the temperature where yeast (and happiness) dies.

It was, in effect, a ticking beerbomb.....

Three chaotic days after the storm, Butcher and his friends had scrambled around enough to locate a portable generator. That cranked out enough juice to support the glycol system and a keg-cooling room, and the men spent the next few days ferrying 5-gallon cans of diesel between a nearby business and the hungry generator.

They also threw a "pint party" in Port City's revamped tasting room. It was the biggest such event in the company's history, in part thanks to fans who swarmed the business with nice, if not a little self-serving, offers of assistance. “There was one guy who said, 'I heard if I didn't get down here and drink this beer, you'd go out of business,'” Butcher recalls.

By the time the electricity came back on, almost a week later on July 5, the brewers had managed to salvage all of their young beer... except for one tank, which had overheated and no longer qualified as “lager.” So Butcher rechristened it “Derecho Common,” after a “common” or “steam” beer refined in San Francisco that ferments lager yeast at a temperature more suitable for ale.

“Derecho will be amber, dark for a lager,” he says. “The pilsner would've been light. This will have a fuller body with caramel and fruity notes.”
It's a happy story with a happy ending. We don't need to think about what horrors would have unfolded if the government was in charge. Think FEMA....

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