Climate-Resilient Beer with Brooklyn, Guinness & Carlsberg

Brooklyn Brewery has united with companies including Guinness and Carlsberg to brew beers using drought-resistant grain that does not need to be irrigated

World breweries including Carlsberg and Diageo-owned Guinness have joined forces for a project to produce beer using the versatile, ancient West African grain, fonio.

The grain, which has thrived in West Africa for over 5,000 years and is widely used in African cooking, is drought resistant and requires no irrigation, pesticides or fertilisers.

Now Brooklyn Brewery’s founder Garrett Oliver has launched Brewing for Impact, which will see breweries from seven countries coming together to create a series of limited-edition beers that will spotlight fonio's qualities.

Brooklyn Brewery's Garrett Oliver

Who’s brewing?

Each brewery is tasked with crafting a unique beer made with fonio.

According to Brooklyn, throughout 2024, the series of limited-edition beers will “spotlight fonio's qualities and potential to drive positive change and a more sustainable future”.

The collaborations are:

  • April - Maison Kalao (Senegal): The Brooklyn A Dakar Pilsner is the latest from a newer lineage of fonio beers at Maison Kalao 
  • May - Thornbridge (UK): Thornbridge Brewery introduces the world's first Pale Ale – Cask Beer made with fonio
  • June - Omnipollo (Sweden): Omnipollo’s Blacker Chocolate Stout reimagines the first beer Garrett ever brewed for Brooklyn Brewery (Black Chocolate Stout), with a focus on fonio's sustainability 
  • July - Carlsberg (Denmark): The launch of a 100% fonio beer is a collaboration that “showcases Carlsberg's and Garrett's enthusiasm for pioneering sustainable brewing practices and exploring fonio's potential in new frontiers of beer”
  • August - Russian River (US):  Russian River’s Fonio Belgian blonde ale emerges from the deep friendship between Garrett and the owners of Russian River, Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo
  • September - Brooklyn Brewery (US): Brooklyn Brewery adds a new pale ale brewed with fonio, embodying the ‘Brewing for Impact’ ethos 
  • October - Jing-A (China): The West Coast IPA made with fonio underscores a connection between Oliver and Jing-A, which first introduced Garrett to Beijing's brewing culture
  • November - Guinness - Guinness' Fonio Stout highlights Garrett's respect for the iconic brand, which has deep roots in Africa and around the world.

Beer with a sustainable kick

Garrett says: “In some ways ‘Brewing for Impact’ is the most important work I've ever done.

“If what we've started truly catches hold in the industry, we will hopefully start seeing the wider use of a grain that has no need for irrigation, fertilisers, pesticides or other chemical inputs.

“It also supports soil regeneration while providing a vital source of income for thousands of smallholder farms in West Africa, which are predominantly female-led – all while making some really fantastic beers."

Cheers for charity

The ‘Brewing for Impact’ series of collaborations will also be showing their support for The Michael James Jackson Foundation for Brewing and Distilling, an organisation founded by Garrett.

The Foundation, which is dedicated to funding scholarship awards for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour within the brewing and distilling trades, will receive a portion of the proceeds from all the beer released under this campaign.

Garrett's brewing exploration with fonio was inspired by Senegalese chef Pierre Thiam, whose pioneering food company Yolélé helped introduce fonio to the Western world.

After watching Thiam's TED talk, Garrett saw the potential of fonio and embarked on a mission to create beers with the grain.

Fonio, known as the ‘seed of the universe’, thrives in nutrient-poor soil in the arid regions near the Sahel Desert where other crops fail.

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