When Pravda Beer Theatre in Lviv, Ukraine, asked its Facebook followers in early March to support the country’s efforts to fight Russian troops, beer makers across the world rallied behind the brewery. Carol and Tim Cochran—the owners of Horse & Dragon Brewing in Fort Collins—were among many members of the suds industry who wanted to help, a movement sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
One of Pravda’s many Facebook posts detailing the dire situation in Lviv announced the brewery plans to halt almost all its production in order to make molotov cocktails out of its remaining bottles and release its recipe files for any brewer around the world to use. Owner Yuri Zastavny also asked followers to donate what they can to humanitarian efforts within Ukraine. “When he first posted, it just brought home how real this war is for so many,” Carol says. “Knowing a fellow small brewer was in such a desperate situation that he would stop brewing and start making molotov cocktails with his bottles was just an absolute reality check.”
The call to action on social media led to the birth of the Brew for Ukraine initiative, which invites brewers to produce suds and send proceeds from sales and donations via GoFundMe to help the Ukrainian people. After seeing the post on March 8, Horse and Dragon made a small financial contribution and plans to send another when it has more tank space in June or July to brew and sell one of Pravda’s beers. “The situation is changing so rapidly in Ukraine that I downloaded the recipes—rather than just saving the link—in case their access to the internet is cut off by the time we can brew,” Carol says. “How awful is that?”
While the fighting in Ukraine continues and the fate of millions of its people remains uncertain, Carol says it’s a small light to see the global brewing community band together. “It is both interesting and uplifting to see the groundswell of support and people posting in the Brew for Ukraine Facebook group—folks contributing from five-gallon homebrews to much bigger commercial batches,” she says. “A global community of people who love and make craft beer, responding to a fellow brewer’s plea.”
Horse and Dragon Brewing is part of a larger community of Colorado food and beverage businesses that are doing what they can to support the Ukrainian people. Read on to learn more about the efforts—and how you can help, too.
Pierogies at Misfit Snackbar and Mizuna
Bo Porytko, the chef-owner of Misfit Snackbar inside Middleman cocktail bar on East Colfax, is serving a colorfully plated rabbit- and potato-stuffed pierogi dish that celebrates the colors of Ukraine: “blue and yellow designating the bright blue skies and golden yellow fields,” he said in an Instagram post. Porytko, whose grandparents immigrated to the United States from Ukraine, will donate all proceeds from the dish to charities aiding the Ukrainian people through March 31. Misfit Snackbar also teamed up with other local eateries, including the Bindery, Restaurant Olivia, Spuntino, and the Urban Cookie to put together Easter baskets for Ukrainian Aid. Each $150 package (available for pick up April 16–17) features charcuterie, pastries, booze and other goodies curated by local chefs and all proceeds benefit Razom for Ukraine. “As long as there are Russian soldiers in Ukraine, I’m gonna try and do what I can,” he says.
Mizuna executive chef Adam Samokishyn is also honoring his Ukrainian roots by crafting pierogies using a family recipe for the restaurant’s tasting menu, which is available through the end of the month. While they’re there, patrons can donate to World Central Kitchen (WCK)—which serves chef-prepared meals on the front lines to those in need in communities impacted by humanitarian crises and natural disasters—via QR codes at their tables. (Mizuna also offered packages of Samokishyn’s pierogi for takeout only, with half of proceeds benefiting charity, but they are already sold out).
Colorado Chefs for Ukraine at the Golden Mill: April 4
The Golden Mill will have a fundraiser on April 4, thanks to the collaboration of Susan Ganter, co-owner of the Golden Mill; Elan Wenzel, owner of Aurora’s Element Knife Company; and Jesusio Silva, the chef-owner behind several of the Golden Mill’s food concepts, including Sushi Sora and Tacos al Chile. The event will feature a silent auction and knife demonstrations, including a sushi knife skills competition and whole hog butchery. Wenzel and Silva are still finalizing their roster of participating chefs, but culinary pros from Sushi Sasa, Bamboo Sushi Co., and Denver Poke Co. have already signed on to show off their fish-slaying talents. Proceeds from the auction and sales of four beers on tap will benefit WCK.
Wenzel—whose great grandparents on his mother’s side fled Kiev, Ukraine, in 1897 to escape religious persecution and eventually settled in Chicago—and Silva hope the event brings community members together after a challenging COVID-ridden winter. “Chefs and cooks and industry people by nature are caregivers,” Wenzel says. “What we do is we serve. And here’s an opportunity to not only serve our community, but to serve our community abroad and the people out in Ukraine.”
Stand with Ukraine Brunch at Cattivella: April 16
When news broke about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February, Cattivella chef-owner Elise Wiggins began making plans to travel to Lviv to cook for those in need with WCK. But once the violence escalated, Wiggins postponed her plans to travel to eastern Europe until May. In the meantime, she will host a fundraiser on April 16—the launch of Cattivella’s Italian-inspired brunch menu—with 10 percent of sales benefitting WCK.
Wiggins says her efforts are inspired by a native of Ukraine who worked at Central Park’s Cattivella for 18 months during the coronavirus pandemic and shared his viewpoints on Russia with her. “He’s a lovely gentleman and his mom is in Ukraine,” says Wiggins, who noted her former employee is likely back in his home country and continues to communicate with her via text message. “I’m not the type of person who likes to idly sit by and it’s not just because of him [or his mom],” she says. “I feel like it’s the right thing to do…It would be very hard for me going over there not to step across the border and even help fight. I believe so strongly in it.”
Call to Arms Brewing’s Dark Czech Lager
On March 1, Berkeley’s Call to Arms Brewing Company, which is known for calling attention to pop culture and current events with playful beer names, announced its decision to rebrand a dark Czech lager named Shirtless Putin Catchin’ Rays to condemn Russia’s escalating aggression toward Ukraine. While the name of the series—Shirtless Putin—originally came to life as a way to parody Russian propaganda in 2016, owner Chris Bell says the brewery doesn’t feel like it’s appropriate to reference Putin’s name on its beers any longer. Call to Arms plans to rename the brew and donate $1 of each six pack sold to UNICEF’s children of Ukraine fund.
Bell hopes to raise over $1,000 for the charity and spark conversation. “If it opens dialogue between two people who disagree and they can find a medium to talk to each other without being divisive, I think it’s worthwhile,” he says. “I think that’s something the world doesn’t have a lot of these days. And if we do something that makes somebody angry—but we can have an open, honest conversation about it and learn from each other, I think that’s really powerful.”
More Local Culinary Businesses Supporting Ukraine
Through tomorrow, March 23, Snooze, an A.M. Eatery will donate 100 percent of sales of its pancake of the week—currently a chocolate-covered pretzel delight—to WCK. The fundraiser will take place at all 51 locations, and the beloved breakfast spot is committed to donating a minimum of $25,000.
Lincoln Park–based Dazbog Coffee Company will give $3 per bag of its Svoboda Freedom Blend sold in stores or online to the International Committee of the Red Cross. The coffee and purveyor—which was founded by brothers Anatoly and Leonid Yuffa, natives of the former Soviet Union who fled their homeland for the United States in 1979—originally planned to hold the fundraiser from February 28 through March 6 but has extended it for the foreseeable future.
On March 17, Burns Family Artisan Ales released Courage, an anti-imperialist stout, to support humanitarian relief efforts in Ukraine. Proceeds of the beer’s sales will be sent to Mercy Corps, which is working alongside Ukrainian communities to help families affected by the conflict.