There is a story behind each Ales for ALS™ brew. Every beer from the program – which benefits the essential research to end amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI) – reflects the passion of a brewer both for their craft and for helping a great cause.
For many brewers in the program, the drive to help comes from a deeply personal place – not just to support a good cause, but also because their own lives have been touched by ALS. Many Ales for ALS beers are brewed in honor of a family member or loved one who passed from the disease, or who is currently battling it.
In celebration of this year’s Ales for ALS beers, we spoke to some of the brewers in the program about their personal ALS stories, and how they inspired them to get involved – and the beers themselves. Today we’re joined by Brianne Grealish, Director of Sales and Distribution for Cambridge, MA’s Lamplighter Brewing Company.
ALS TDI: How has your life been affected by ALS?
Brianne: My late grandfather, Bill Burke Sr. passed away, unfortunately, from ALS in 2012. He had been diagnosed about two to three years before that, maybe a little less. He was a character. He was a very tough dude. I think you have to be to run a large beer distribution company like he did. You have to really hold your own. And that's who he was.
To see him get sick and suffer from ALS was heart wrenching for our family. He was this larger than life personality, and then to see a lot of that be taken away by ALS was very, very difficult. That really stuck with me. And then, I also went to Boston College, where I saw Pete Frates and the Ice Bucket Challenge take off, which was really incredible.
ALS TDI: Why did you get involved with Ales for ALS™?
Brianne: To be honest, I can't really think of one moment where I found out about it. I think I was just wanting to have an influence and impact with ALS therapy development, and Ales for ALS™ just came up. I think I may have seen some other breweries around here that had done work with Ales for ALS™, and then ALS TDI being so close to Lamplighter in Watertown. This just makes so much sense for us to give back.
ALS TDI: What is your 2021 Ales for ALS™ beer?
Brianne: It's called Beacon of Hops. We're releasing it in collaboration with Sam Adams, and they are also releasing two forms of it. We're releasing a pale ale here, and they're releasing a single IPA version at their Jamaica Plain Brewery and a double IPA version at their Boston taproom. The thought process was, "let's get this to be as big as possible, really get people coming out trying to track this beer down, drink it where they can, buy it where they can, and really just have as much of an impact as possible.".
That was also really exciting for me, and I think ties back to the personal connection, because my grandfather had worked with Sam Adams since the eighties as their distributor. A lot of things stacked up on top of each other, that we got to work with this crew that was really close with him in his lifetime, and also to be able to make three different, pretty unique beers that all tie together for this cause.
I think what's great, too, is now that things are opening up. We have our beer garden open so you can come to Lamplighter and grab some Beacon of Hops on draft or cans, have it in a beer garden and then go to JP and try Sam Adams' version or the Boston Tap Room downtown in Faneuil Hall and try the third version there. So, lots of good opportunities.
For more information about Lamplighter Brewing Company, click here. You can find their beer at their Cambridge, MA taproom and in liquor stores across Massachusetts. To learn more about Sam Adams’ versions of Beacon of Hops, click here.
For more information about Ales for ALS™, click here.