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Iron Tug and Irondequoit Beer Company are brewing beers to raise money for the people of Ukraine 

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PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in late February, Pravda Brewery, a craft brewery in the western city of Lviv, made the daunting decision to cease all beer production.

But Pravda wasn’t closing shop. Far from it. The brewery turned instead to producing Molotov cocktails to support the war effort as the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense urged citizens to begin improvising the devices. The DIY incendiary tools are made from bottles originally planned for Pravda’s Belgian strong ale “PUTIN HUYLO.”

The name translates to “Putin is a dickhead,” and the bottle is Illustrated with a nude image of Russian President Vladimir Putin on a throne.

Pravda, now in the role of an impromptu weapons manufacturer, called on the international brewing community to offer support to Ukraine through so-called “Victory beer” sessions. Pravda has opened up its recipes to any brewer willing to make them, with proceeds going back to Ukraine. The brewery is also hosting virtual sessions with breweries, offering advice on making the beers.

At Irondequoit Beer Company, Head Brewer Nate Kester will be rolling out a version of Pravda’s witbier, Frau Ribbentrop, on Saturday, April 2.

“Irondequoit has such a big Ukrainian population, we figured it was a no-brainer,” Kester said. “And it’s just a cool opportunity, I would probably never brew a German wit, and this is a great reason to.”

The beer itself, sampled directly from the fermentation vessel, is brightly floral, with subtle bits of citrus sprinkled around both the front and finish.

The name of the beer is a slam on former German Chancellor Angela Merkel for her perceived inaction in aiding Ukraine during the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea in the eastern portion of the country. Merkel is equated with Joachim von Ribbentrop, the Nazi Germany Minister of Foreign Affairs who brokered the 1939 non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union.

Leslie DiCesare, general manager of Irondequoit Beer Company, said the brewery has been conversing with Pravda, mainly over Facebook, leading up to the brew.

“It’s kind of surreal to be talking to them, half a world away, with everything happening,” DiCesare said.

At the beer release, the brewery will partner with St. Mary The Protectress Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, who will hold a pierogi sale at IBC to raise money for Ukraine.

Irondequoit is not the only brewery in town to brew up something special to benefit Ukraine. On Park Avenue, Iron Tug Brewing released “Blue and Gold,” a blonde ale named for the colors of the Ukrainian flag last weekend.

Iron Tug is not working directly with Pravda, but instead will be donating the proceeds from the beer to two specific Ukrainian charities.

Insight Ukraine is an organization dedicated to providing resources, shelter, and support to LGBTQ Ukrainians, and The Coalition to Support Black People in Ukraine, which is geared toward aiding Black Ukrainians facing discrimination at the border.

“As an organization, we saw that need, and we wanted to try to find organizations addressing those needs specifically for those groups of people,” said Eric Wallace, head brewer at Iron Tug. “It’s something we’re passionate about, supporting those groups in the first place.”
click to enlarge Head brewer of Iron Tug Brewing Eric Wallace. - PHOTO BY GINO FANELLI
  • PHOTO BY GINO FANELLI
  • Head brewer of Iron Tug Brewing Eric Wallace.
Blue and Gold pays plenty of tribute to Ukrainian culture. The beer is brewed with malted sunflower seeds, emblematic of the treasured national flower of Ukraine, and cornflower, a traditional Ukrainian symbol of goodness, beauty, and hospitality.

The sunflower seeds impart a mild toastiness to the beer, as well as tinting it a deep, hazy straw color reminiscent of a New England IPA, while the cornflower adds an ever-so-subtle touch of herbal tea tannins.

In Ukraine, Pravda still continues its efforts to build international solidarity through beer, even if the brewery itself has had to put beer on hold.

But, as described in the mission statement for the “Victory beer” series, there is hope in brewing.

“Brewing in Lviv now sounds like a non-priority,” Pravda’s website reads. “The city is bracing for a fight. Alcohol is forbidden, and we once in a lifetime support it. But brewing now – like giving birth or a marriage – is hope.”

Pravda also accepts donations directly to support their wartime efforts.

Gino Fanelli is a CITY staff writer. He can be reached at (585) 775-9692 or gino@rochester-citynews.com.
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