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Signature brew benefits Free to Breathe

  • July 21 2017

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    Signature brew benefits Free to Breathe

    A unique fundraiser put Free to Breathe on tap – with a brew called Survivors Double IPA. Devils Backbone Brewing Company, a Virginia brewery, created Survivors Double IPA as part of its newly launched Heartland Series. Staff members are invited to submit ideas for each quarterly-brewed beer to benefit nonprofit organizations that are close to their hearts.

    Julianne Gunst, a member of the HR team, proposed the brew to benefit Free to Breathe. She and her cousin, Erek Janowski, have been involved with Race for Breath in Virginia Beach for the past 10 years. Erek’s father Karl passed away in 2009 from lung cancer, and a family member has been the top fundraiser in the event every year.

    Cousins Erek Janowski (left) and Anthony Gunst (Julianne's
    husband) in the brewing room.

    Erek and Julianne brainstormed ideas for the beer, and came up with the double style to connect with Free to Breathe’s vision of doubling lung cancer survival. They worked closely with Devils Backbone brewer Aaron Reilly to develop the final recipe. “It wasn’t just, we picked your charity, now we will take over. Devils Backbone let us be part of the whole process,” Erek said. “Aaron was super helpful letting us sample grains, smell hops, and really let us get a sense of his idea for the flavor of the beer.”

    “The Heartland Series selection committee was inspired by Julianne and her family’s dedication to the cause, the creativity of the beer, and the impact the funds raised would have across the Devils Backbone heartland,” said Elizabeth Tual, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager for the brewery. Free to Breathe will receive 50% of all sales of the brew.

    The brewery held a Survivors Double IPA launch party June 23 at both its locations, and incorporated a yoga session – led by instructor Maggie Robertson – into the festivities. Julianne proposed this special activity to reflect the importance of breath and to strengthen the tie-in to Free to Breathe. The Devils Backbone stage, with a spectacular view of the mountains, was an ideal setting for this event.

    Erek shared that successful fundraisers start with a willingness to try – something they discussed at last year’s Lung Cancer Leadership Conference. “We all know the statistics on lung cancer – odds are, whoever you are asking to fundraise or donate, they can relate in some way and probably are willing to help,” he said. “The more you put your willingness to fundraise out there, the more opportunities you’ll find.”

    See more photos at this link.


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