Back in 2012 I went to The States to look at several breweries and whilst failing to convince my better half that this was indeed a ‘work trip’ the net result proved that I may have been right several years later.
As well as great beers, most garnished with hops by the sack-full, there was one other key feature that I found in every brewery I visited – the sense of community they forged. It maybe that most of them had very busy Tap Rooms adjoining the breweries, but regardless, these guys were in their communities, raising money, raising awareness and running events. The main takeaway here was that breweries and pubs (Tap Rooms) are viewed as a force for good in the US, while over here in the UK, we’re more used to reading binge drinking stories in The Daily Mail and sensational headlines around figures that at best are Flaky. Now, before anyone starts prodding me in the chest, yes, alcohol is to be taken in moderation, I think most people understand that and as for our Millennials, research suggests many of them will turn out to be Teetotal…let’s revisit that once they are married, have kids, mortgages, credit cards and jobs they hate…then we’ll re-run that poll. Anyway, I was asking myself how they have arrived at a position across the pond where breweries and pubs were held up as part of the social fabric of our their communities.
This gave me reason to ask if we could do the same back in the UK, or indeed are we doing the same already?
I was pleasantly surprised:
A survey by PubAid revealed that UK Pubs raise over £100M for charity every year.
Joseph Holt Brewery's history of giving goes back to 1914 when their donation of £20,000 started the building of the Christie Hospital in Manchester. And in 2014 they raised a further £402,000 to celebrate the hospital’s centenary.
Greene King has raised over £3M for MacMillan in the past 5 years.
Wetherspoon have raised over £12M for CLIC Sargent since 2002.
Everards have donated over £2M to charity.
One Pub, Mains of Scotstown Inn near Aberdeen raised over £120,000 for charity in one year alone!
In addition to the considerable support for Dame Alice Owen’s and Aldenham Schools the Brewers’ Company act as the trustee for, administer and provide funds to numerous other charities and charitable causes.
Then it was our turn. In 2013, six months after visiting The States, we set-up the Dark Star Foundation, which to-date has raised over £20,000 for good causes, distributing monies to the likes of The Dame Vera Lynn Trust, Age UK, St Catherine’s Hospice and The Scouts…as well as putting on a Christmas Lunch and providing new clothes for local homeless people.
…It’s a shame more of these stories don’t make it into the papers, like I said, they seem more intent on reporting on ‘Binge Drink Britain’ and looking for the next set of negative statistics on our trade. Maybe if we all take to social media and share these great stories we’ll start to change opinion? Maybe if we just take PubAid’s fact that pubs in the UK raise over £100M for charity every year and share that with our friends, we can create a ground-swell of love for the Great British Pub…who knows, but unless we try, we’re condemned to be the whipping boys for many of the consumer press for ever more, or until we run out of pubs.
The Dark Star Brewing Co.
Find out more about The Dark Star Foundation here.
Find out more about PubAid here.