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 crop of 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 Todd Malloy, the Brewmaster of Glenwood Springs, CO’s Glenwood Canyon Brewpub.
ALS TDI: Can you tell us about yourself and how you got into the beer industry?
Todd Malloy: I'm originally from the Vail Valley, Colorado. My dad moved to Vail in 1962 and was one of the original ski patrollers at Vail. He and my mom met not too long after that. I think they met in 1965 on one of the chairlifts on their way up the mountain. They were married for 52 years and raised my brother and I.
My Dad bought me my first home brew kit when I was in high school. My mom was a studio ceramicist. She had this real sort of scientific knack for making all these glazes and firing temperatures and all these really cool, cool things So I felt like that their two careers sort of fueled my career in beer because they just had this perfect balance between science and also a hands-on approach to life. And they also enjoyed beer, and they weren't afraid to share with my brother and I when we were probably far too young to be drinking beer.
And then, when I went to college, I studied business management, but I turned everything way towards the brewing side of things. I studied some brewing science and microbiology. And then as soon as I graduated, I started working where I am now, the Glenwood Canyon Brewing Company, starting as an intern and eventually becoming lead brewer.
Then from there I ended up going out to Firestone Walker Brewing company in California, which catapulted from a 30,000 barrel-a-year brewery up to 250,000, within four or five years of me getting there. I was just at the top of my career. And then I got a call from the original Brewmaster here back in Glenwood saying, hey, if you want to come back like the job is all yours, I'm retiring. So, I came back to Glenwood and here I am. I came back in 2014 and it was it was a few years later, unfortunately, that my mom got diagnosed with ALS.
ALS TDI: Can you us me more about your mom’s diagnosis and how it affected you?
Todd Malloy: My mom used her hands every day in her studio throwing pots, and she just discovered that something wasn't quite right. It just got to the point where she had to go see a specialist. I remember my dad calling me and saying that the specialist had some news, and that was it wasn't going to be good.
So, she went back for more testing, and sure enough, they diagnosed her with ALS. We moved in with my mom and dad pretty much immediately after and helped my dad manage the dailies with my mom. Her progress was so rapid. It was just so hard to palette.
She was this person who just wasn't going to let the disease take her. She was 75, and I don't know if it was her age or just the person that she was or the fear factor. In Colorado we have a law that you can end your life if you're capable and willing, and so she opted for that. None of us really second guessed it. The good thing was that the day that she opted for that, she was still able to communicate and talk and she was able to say her last words. And so that was the way she decided to go so. But, obviously, this is a terrible disease. A terrible way to go out.
ALS TDI: Thanks for sharing that, I know it can't be easy to talk to talk about. Can you tell us a little more about what drew you to Ales for ALS™?
Todd Malloy: My mom passed August 6, 2018. Since then we've done Ales for ALS a couple of times, starting the year she died. It's always fun, because we don't know what's going on with the particular hop varieties. That's always kind of exciting because we can amend the base recipe to the hops.
It's always up in the air until we actually get the hops in our hands. Then we'll smell them and make a decision about what we want to do. A lot of these beers are really hop forward. We try to sort of minimize the malt impact and just sort of shoot for the moon on the hops. We've done some fun stuff. I think we’ll definitely do an IPA this year this year, but the last one we did was actually an India pale lager. We used our lager yeast, which makes for a nice, clean, super dry finish. But you also get that really nice hop quality to it. It's always fun waiting for the hops to come, smelling them and then trying to brew something immediately after and just shoot for the moon on the hops, because they're always really, really nice hops.
For more information about the Glenwood Canyon Brewpub, click here. To learn more about the Ales for ALS™ program and find more beers to try, click here.