Wisconsin brewery first in U.S. to promote beer to support Ukraine humanitarian efforts

Oconomowoc craft beer and baseball lovers will now have a new beer to try on tap at the Wisconsin Brewing Company Park, home of the Lake Country DockHounds. That beer, a pilsner brewed with a unique ingredient, not only provides a ballpark refreshment but also supports a global cause to provide humanitarian services in Ukraine.

The Wisconsin Brewing Co. and its subsidiary Lake Louie Brewing, released Lake Louie MoveUkraine Pilsner, a light lager brewed with roasted sunflower seeds. The sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine and often symbolically linked to current humanitarian efforts surrounding the war in Ukraine.

The MoveUkraine Pilsner began its sales Aug. 15 at the Wisconsin Brewing Company Park as well as at the Lake Louie Taproom in Verona. A percentage of MoveUkraine Pilsner beer sales will go to MoveUkraine.org, which is working to rebuild homes and support Ukrainians.

MoveUkraine is a registered and regulated Ukrainian charity, co-founded by U.S., British and Swiss individuals. It partners with the U.S. nonprofit Applied Hope Foundation to support humanitarian efforts.

Four Fathers Brewing in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada, was the first brewery to produce this special pilsner infused with sunflower seeds. Now, the Canadian brewery hopes to share the recipe with brewers across North America to fundraise for MoveUkraine.

Wisconsin Brewing Co. is the first U.S. brewery to produce this beer.

“The hope of MoveUkraine Pilsner is to impact the critical rebuilding of homes and lives of millions who have lost everything due to the war, including a safe roof over their heads. The campaign is intended to build awareness of the Ukrainian plight while putting a spotlight on the grim reality of their fight for freedom,” MoveUkraine’s U.S. director Ken Shearer said in a press release.

Wisconsin Brewing Co. president Paul Verdu has a unique connection to that area of the world. He has three adopted children, now adults. Two were adopted from Belarus and one from Russia.

“The whole region’s stability and peace and freedom is really important because our kids are from that region of the world,” Verdu said.

The connection runs deeper as a man who assisted Verdu’s family throughout the adoption process, including translating a mountain of necessary documents, was a Ukrainian American. He was killed by a sniper in the first two weeks of the war in Ukraine in 2022.

“The whole thing just hit our family and that news shook us, so I’ve been trying to figure out if there is a way to help,” he said.

Verdu added that breweries across the country supported Ukrainian relief efforts in the early days of the war, but as it continues, less awareness has been brought to the situation in Eastern Europe. He hopes this new effort will encourage breweries to once again get involved. Verdu is using his platform with Wisconsin Brewing Co. to inspire other breweries to either produce the beer or a similar beer to support MoveUkraine.

Verdu expects the beer, produced on the brewery’s five-barrel pilot system, will sell out quickly. He plans to brew it again and continue the effort for some time. He has no specific deadline to the fundraising efforts.

“The goal is to really raise money and continue to raise awareness for what’s going on in Ukraine,” he said.

Margaret Naczek, Milwaukee Business Journal

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