Brewing good: Three local breweries team up on a beer to raise funds for suicide prevention and awareness

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LEWISTON, N.Y. (WIVB) – Last February, John Paul Meteer had the idea to create a beer to help raise funds for suicide prevention and awareness.

“I just want people to know that if you need help, help is out there,” Meteer, the head brewer of Brickyard Brewing Company, said.

To create the brew, he enlisted some help- from Pressure Drop Brewing Company’s Karl Kolbe and Thin Man Brewing’s Robert “Rudybob” Watkins.

“The local beer community is an amazing thing- when anybody needs help, it’s not just one or two but everyone raises their hand as to how they can help,” Kolbe said. “To be put in a situation where, through the miracle of beer, you can help some people out, it’s awesome.”

The three created a recipe together. Dubbed “It’s Okay Not to Be Okay” Double IPA, the beer will be on sale in 16 oz. four-packs at Brickyard Brewing Company starting March 13. All of the proceeds will go toward organizations like Mental Health America and the JED Foundation.

“It’s going to be a pretty substantial amount of money that we spread out to a couple of different youth suicide prevention and mental health awareness charities,” Meteer said. “Because we’re donating 100 percent of the proceeds, you’re basically donating to charity and getting something out of it other than feeling good.”

Some other local businesses are also pitching in on the collaboration: Niagara Label is creating the label, Rochester-based Revolution Mobile Canning is doing the canning, and Stronghold Studio is doing the artwork- all pro bono.

“When I called people to ask for help, I thought I’d get a little help,” Meteer said. “I never thought everyone would be 100 percent on board with donating time and money to make it happen.”

Brew day for the beer was Wednesday at Brickyard Brewing Company.

Kolbe describes the beer as a “new-school, hazy New England IPA” that uses some newer, more experimental hops.

“We’re going to be taking the flavors up to 11 on this one- it should be an absolutely soft, smooth, beautiful, velvety juice bomb with a little bit of skunkiness and dankness underneath,” Kolbe added.

The label will feature the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800-273-8255.

“We’re doing the little bit we can to let people know that there are resources out there if they’re feeling down- especially with COVID and the middle of winter, and everything else right now, people are really struggling,” Meteer said.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in 2018, suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the U.S., claiming the lives of over 48,000 people.

It was the second leading cause of death in people between the ages of ten and 34, and the fourth-leading cause of death in people between 35 and 54 years old.

“I think that mental health is always an important conversation- I think the pandemic kind of brought it to the forefront and highlighted the situation, but I think it’s something that doesn’t get the attention it deserves,” Kolbe said.

“I just want people to know that if you need help, help is out there,” Meteer added. “It’s not always easy to ask for help but you can get it.”

Brickyard Brewing suffered a fire last May– after which the community rallied around them. The Brickyard BBQ and Pub reopened in October, and the brewery side isn’t far behind.

Meteer says they’re looking to do a soft open around the anniversary of the fire, May 27.

“The brewery is good to go- we’re out here making beer in a separate facility,” Meteer said. “When I tweeted the night of the fire that we’re going to be back bigger and better than ever, I wasn’t kidding- the place is going to be absolutely beautiful.”

Kaley Lynch is a digital reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2017. See more of her work here.

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