One day, shortly after the COVID-19 stay-at-home order was put in place, Max Oswald, the director of sales and operations at Queensbury’s Northway Brewing Co., was sitting at home, bored, wanting to go out for a beer. He quickly realized that he couldn’t, since all the bars and restaurants were closed. “Then I just started to steamroll,” Oswald says. “You know, having been in the beer business for a while, knowing all kinds of bar and restaurant owners; it’s kind of my lifestyle. And it was a wave of ‘what is going to happen to these people who have lost their income?’”
The next day, Oswald reached out to a handful of his contacts in the beer industry to do something to help tipped service industry workers, who are out of jobs because of COVID-19. From those conversations, Brewnited, a partnership of these six breweries—Northway Brewing Co., Adirondack Brewery, Bolton Landing Brewing Company, Druthers Brewing Co., Artisanal Brew Works and Common Roots Brewing Company—was formed. Its first move was a natural one: to make some beer.
Brewnited came up with Negative Input, a simple American lager that would have a wide appeal. “The name comes from that Twiddle song, ‘White Light,’ and it’s this: ‘Take the negative input and flip it upside-down.’ We actually put the label upside-down for that purpose. The song is really true to what’s going on globally, so it was kind of the perfect name.”
What good will these four-packs of craft beer do? All profits from Negative Input sales go directly to local tipped workers who are currently unemployed. Those who fit that criteria can apply for assistance on wearebrewnited.com; in the same place, there’s a list of locations selling the limited edition four-packs as a well as a donate button for more immediate action. At press time, Brewnited had raised $23,805 through donations and Negative Input sales, as well as through a large contribution from Ball Corp. The partnership was also on track to receive a contribution from Death Wish Coffee’s “Broke, Not Busted” charity T-shirt campaign.
To quote more of Twiddle’s “White Light”: “So many people burning down/So many people need a lift/It starts with one big smile/And grows with every laugh.” With Brewnited and Negative Input, it seems as though Oswald and his team of brewers have come together to be that one big smile the Capital Region service industry needs right now.