If you know or have met Rob Callaghan of Tuckahoe Brewery, you know two things; first, he loves craft beer, talking about craft beer and selling craft beer. Callaghan is passionate about the industry. The second thing is that he is always thinking and acting on ways to make the industry better and that includes working with breweries that some people would consider competitors.
When news broke recently that members of the New Jersey craft beer community have united to create a nonprofit organization designed to help hospitality workers affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, I believe that if you know or have met Callaghan, you knew he had to be involved in this new initiative. Turns out, Callaghan was a driving force behind Brewery Strong. The goal and idea behind the newly formed nonprofit is to provide immediate relief and assistance to the industry in New Jersey and to help provide support to the growth of the craft brewing industry in the state in the future.
Spearheaded by Callaghan, of Tuckahoe Brewing Co., Brewery Strong will accept and disburse donations for unemployed or underemployed servers throughout the state for the duration of the pandemic and beyond.
“I have been kicking around the idea since the pandemic began, thinking about ways we as a community could come together and help each other,” said Callaghan, Brewery Strong president. “Brewery Strong started out as a hashtag I used in a South Jersey Beer Scene video call and it has grown from there. Very quickly we were able to put together a strong team representing different aspects of the community to help push the idea along.”
Callaghan sought out other Brewery Strong believers from the industry and asked them to join the board of Directors of the nonprofit. They include South Jersey Beer Scene co-founder John Couchoud; Matthew Czigler, owner of Czig Meister Brewing Company in Hackettstown; Cindy DeRama, owner of Twin Elephant Brewing Company in Chatham; and Alexis Degan of the New Jersey Brewers Association.
Callaghan immediately went to work with visual artist Mike Bell to create a logo that reflected his vision for what the logo should look like. Both Bell and Frank Santoro, who helped with digital support, donated their time to the effort. Together they have created a graphic that will be available on T-shirts and other paraphernalia to be sold directly by Brewery Strong or adapted so that individual breweries can sell them through their own merchandising outlets.
Trustee members include Augie Carton of Carton Brewing, Krystle Lockman of Axe and Arrow Brewing, and Mike Kivowitz of New Jersey Craft Beer. Each member of the executive board and committee brings their perspective, resources, and support to the organization.
A portion of funds collected will be allocated towards a scholarship fund the organization intends to use for brewery education initiatives; however, the bulk of the money is to be used for direct financial aid to out of work and underemployed hospitality workers in the state.
When it comes to brewing up ideas and creative ways to assist the craft beer industry through this challenging and difficult time, the passion, proof of performance and industry knowledge is exactly what Callaghan and the newly formed board and trustees can bring to the effort.