Lauren LaRocca, The Frederick News-Post, Md.
·3 min read

Apr. 8—In this episode of UnCapped, host Chris Sands is in conversation with Colin Gerner, president and cofounder of StacheStrong, a 501©3 charity devoted to raising funds and awareness for brain cancer research. Its inspiration and cofounder, GJ, who battled glioblastoma for 25 months.

How did beer become part of your brother's brain cancer diagnosis?

My brother was diagnosed at 27, I was 24 at the time — three years ago — and we loved to drink beer, we loved craft beer, he was a big brown ale guy and loved his Guinness, Maduro Brown was his No. 1. It was year or two after Resiliency, and my brother's not diagnosed at the time, I'm not starting a charity, and one of our good friends works at Oskar Blues, and we're just at the bar in Colorado. I thought, how cool to see thousands of breweries across the U.S. rally around something that was a big issue at the time and try to rebuild what was going on. So cool. As we start StacheStrong, I thought let's do a collab or push a beer with Oskar Blues. We linked up with a beer that they had and tried to help push it and connect it with a brand and a charity, and it went really well, year one. Year two, we went down and brewed with them. Passion Stache was the name of that one. It sold out, 15 barrels. It started to catch some eyes, I'm sure, from the business side — like, this is a great idea. And then COVID hits. We had a 35-barrel, four states taproom distribution set up to be a solid event, and at that point, production had shut down. But let's not wait a year and do this again, let's think of how we could build this. Back to that resiliency. In my mind, we would have many more breweries involved. We launched the idea at the beginning of 2021 and started to reach out to breweries. I thought it would be a great. I thought 30 breweries would be a great year one. We're at over 190 breweries in 37 states, at this point, that are going to be brewing a Smash for Stache single malt single hop, or else an agreed upon beer as part of what we're calling BrewStacheStrong in support of brain cancer research. I'm in a position where I'm able to make change and help drive it, but it's been humbling to watch people you've never met and breweries you might not even have a connection to rally around your cause and just jump in. I've had 20-minute calls with head brewers and taproom managers just so excited to be onboard. It's a national beer collab, at this point, in a year-one, family-run nonprofit. It's humbling.

Even more impressive, you kicked it off in January. That's a lot, especially because some breweries plan out pretty far in advance. I imagine you will more than double that next year.

We have hundreds of breweries like, "Hey, timing wasn't right this year. We'd love to be involved next year." I think what's different about us is ultimately I'm emailing and calling all these breweries, friends are helping with contacts, we don't have associates and directors of community involvement. This is a night job, it's a passion. As it started to catch heat, I kept saying to our fans, "This thing is growing!" I had to upgrade my Gmail because we had too many emails coming in — which is the greatest problem to have.

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