Brewery Vivant joins Brew for Ukraine initiative

Brewery Vivant's Anyuta Farmhouse Ale is named after co-founder Jason Spaulding's grandmother, who grew up in Ukraine but was displaced during World War II, then eventually emigrated to the U.S. She's pictured here with her husband on a visit home to Ukraine in the 1980s. Courtesy Brewery Vivant

Brewery Vivant brewed up a special batch of beer that will help raise funds for Ukrainian relief.

The Grand Rapids-based brewery has joined the international Brew for Ukraine effort to raise awareness and funds to support refugees following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It will launch its special beer on tap in its pub at 925 Cherry St. SE in Grand Rapids on April 28 alongside Ukrainian menu pairings.

Inspired by Pravda Brewery founder Yuri Zastavny in Lviv, Ukraine, who pivoted from bottling beer to making Molotov cocktails using the bottles after Russia invaded his country, brewers around the world were inspired to make special-batch beers to support a variety of nonprofits helping those impacted by the war, and the Brew for Ukraine initiative was born.

“Obviously, we’re all watching what’s happening in Ukraine,” said Jason Spaulding, co-owner and co-founder of Brewery Vivant alongside his wife, Kris Spaulding. “It’s tough to watch, and you wonder how you can help. We’d heard about this movement coming out of Ukraine … and wanted to participate in some way, to try to help in any way we could.”

Participating breweries in the Brew for Ukraine initiative — the North American portion of which is led by Vern Raincock — are making versions of Pravda’s recipes, as well as their own takes on classic styles, and each brewery has selected a vetted humanitarian relief charity to support with the proceeds from the new brews.

Courtesy Brewery Vivant

Brewery Vivant’s special batch beer for the collaboration is called Anyuta, a Ukrainian Farmhouse Ale clocking in at 6% ABV, brewed with loaves of Ukrainian rye bread in the mash that were baked by Field & Fire Bakery.

The beer carries the nickname of Jason Spaulding’s maternal grandmother, who grew up in Ukraine but was displaced during World War II, then eventually emigrated to the U.S.

“She’s passed (on now), but growing up, she spoke all these languages and was very proud of being from Ukraine, back when it was the USSR. I have distant relatives there I’ve never met personally — my mother has gone over and met them before — but I guess it just really hits home, having that personal connection,” he said.

Brewery Vivant made 10 barrels of Anyuta to offer on draft in its taproom until gone, which Jason Spaulding estimates will be in about two to four weeks after launch. A portion of the sales of the Anyuta brew will be donated to UNICEF, he said.

The brewery’s chefs still are in the planning process for the menu specials that will be offered to pair with the beer, but Spaulding said one of the items likely will be Field & Fire’s “dense, flavorful” Ukrainian rye bread.

The Brew for Ukraine initiative so far has over 400 breweries participating worldwide.

In addition to Brewery Vivant, participating breweries in greater West Michigan include Saugatuck Brewing Co. in Douglas, Final Gravity Brewing Company in Decatur, Presidential Brewing Co. in Portage, Sister Lakes Brewing Company in Dowagiac and Silver Harbor Brewing Co. in St. Joseph.

Jason Spaulding said, along with many of the other breweries that have signed on to the initiative, Brewery Vivant plans to share its recipe with any other breweries that might want to use it to help raise funds and awareness.

He said since it doesn’t appear the Russia-Ukraine conflict is ending anytime soon, he hopes the Brew for Ukraine movement will grow, and more local breweries will join.

“We hope that some other brewers see what we are doing, and they maybe get inspired to help also. It’s half a world away, but I think we can all do our part to try to make the world a better place.”

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