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Local Ohio breweries brew up funds to support Ukrainian relief

After Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year, several area businesses started fundraisers to help the people of Ukraine.

Two breweries decided to help with what they know best: beer, of course.

Both Forest City Brewery and Catawba Island Brewing Company have new beers called “Slava Ukraini,” which translates to “Glory to Ukraine.”

“We’re small. We’re Cleveland, Ohio, you know. In the world, we’re really tiny, but there’s a huge community here that wants to make an impact on that. And it’s just nice to know that we’re along with the ride too,” said Forest City Brewery head brewer Matt Smedley.

Smedley concocted Forest City’s Slava Ukraini as a wheat ale with lemon zest because wheat beers are popular in Ukraine and wheat is one of the nation’s largest crops.

Forest City will donate a portion of the beer’s sales, as well as some of the pierogi sales, to the Ukrainian Red Cross.

Slava Ukraini Beers on the Sound of Ideas
The owners and brewers of Forest City Brewery and Catawba Island Brewing Company both joined the Sound of Ideas Tuesday morning. You can listen to that conversation here.

“As a small business, we’ve got to do anything to help people in times of need like that,” said Forest City owner Jay Demagall.

Forest City head chef Carlos Polichuk, a Ukrainian American, helped brainstorm the idea behind this specialty beer.

“It seems like Ukraine is by themselves, which is unfortunate. What we’re trying to do is just show any support we can,” Polichuk said. “With Cleveland having such a large Ukrainian Community we’re showing them that we support you.”

Catawba Island Brewing Company’s Slava Ukraini is a dry hopped golden ale and was made using a recipe from Pravda Beer Company in Ukraine.

Earlier this year, Pravda Beer Company shared its recipes in hopes breweries around the world would recreate them and donate to Ukrainian relief efforts.

“We don’t know much about foreign policy, but we do know how to make beer and if we can help by making beer, we’d do it,” said Catawba Island Brewing owner Matt Roder.

Catawba Island Brewing is donating a portion of its proceeds to the Pravda Beer Company, which is currently providing aid to locals.

Both of the Ohio breweries said they’ve exceeded expectations for the sale of their Slava Ukraini beers and will continue brewing and selling them.

“Even if this conflict, this war ended tomorrow, it’s going to be months, it’s going to be years before these people are able to get back to their home and to their families,” Catawba Island Brewing Company head brewer Justin Williams said. “So long as there’s a need, we’re going to continue to do what we can.”

Forest City Brewery is hosting a benefit concert for Ukrainian relief efforts featuring Ukrainian American musicians on April 21.

Gabriel Kramer is a Filipino American journalist from Medina, Ohio. He studied journalism at Kent State University and is a proud member of the Asian American Journalists Association.