Drink This Beer And You Can Feed Some People – Seriously!

Written by Terry Gardner

“At Finnegans we are passionate about turning beer into food. Our profits are used to purchase fresh produce from local growers and that produce goes to local food shelves.”

aNewDomain – My drinking usually tilts toward wine, but a beer brand I discovered in Minneapolis may change that. I love the idea of sipping, swigging or guzzling for good — even if my head might hurt a little the next day.

I’ve clicked glasses in many a toast, but I never thought my raised glass could help people until I met Finnegans beer, specifically its Irish Amber.

Finnegans was born in Minneapolis 15 years ago to feed the poor. Oh, and to make great beer. Because it’s hard to feed folks if your beer is just OK. To raise awareness about hunger — Finnegans’ mama is very focused on doing good. That mama, the Founder and CEO, is Jacquie Berglund, who prefers the title: Rambunctional Social Entrepreneur. Of course, who isn’t rambunctious after a pint or two?

“I have always wanted to leave the world a better place than when I got here,” wrote Berglund via email. “I am just hard wired that way. Beer turned out to be the path for me to do that as I was working in marketing for a group of Irish pubs when the idea for creating Finnegans was born.” She launched the do-good beer brand with Finnegans Irish Amber ale after testing it on unsuspecting customers at Cara Irish Pubs. (Okay, I made that up about the customers being unsuspecting. That’s how I would test a beer out. No doubt Berglund told them the truth and the pub crowd said: “I’ll drink to that.”)

In 2012, Berglund toured some of their partner farms with Pat Kerrick, a board member on Finnegans’ Community Fund, the company’s charitable giving arm.  At the time, he worked with The Food Group, Finnegans’ Minnesota food partner through its Harvest for the Hungry program. Loon Organics was one of their stops. Below (left to right) are:  Laura Frerichs and Adam Cullip, the owners of the 40-acre Loon Organics Farm, next to Social Rambunctious Entrepreneur Jacquie Berglund.

Karen Berglund with owners of Loon Organics farm


“At Finnegans we are passionate about turning beer into food,” wrote Berglund again. “Our profits are used to purchase fresh produce from local growers and that produce goes to local food shelves — it is truly a win-win-win.” Berglund’s company is now the sixth largest beer company in Minnesota, and since 2000, she has generated half a million dollars to fight hunger through Finnegans’ profits, partnerships and special events. Finnegans Community Fund is the giving arm of the company. “We have expanded our distribution foot print to 5 states in the Midwest (MN, ND, SD, WI and IA), which is a great fit for our working with food banks and our fresh produce model,” Berglund added.

FINNEGANS – Reverse food truck accepts food donations (from FINNEGANS on Vimeo).

Finnegans claims to be the only beer company in the world that contributes 100 percent of its profits to feeding the needy by stocking local food banks with fresh produce. My Google searches to find a do-gooder rival only turned up one ale, that was a limited edition. Two Beers Brewing Co. made a Prosperity IPA to benefit Whole Foods’ Whole Planet Foundation in 2013. Hello, Whole Foods, get thee and your foundation to Minnesota or put Finnegans on your shelves. Minnesota doesn’t even seem to be on your store location radar.

Finnegans pays Summit Brewing Company to make its three beers: Irish Amber, Blonde Ale and its new Dead Irish Poet, a stout that harkens back to Finnegans’ James Joyce roots. Plans are in the works to eventually have a Finnegans brewery in downtown Minneapolis. And what could go better with Superbowl 52 in 2018 at the new U.S. Bank Stadium than a nearby Finnegans brewery?

Below, Pat Kerrick of Emergency Foodshelf Network next to the Loon Organics sign from his 2012 farm tour with Jacquie Berglund.

1Pat of Food Shelter-Finnegans Farm Food Shelf Tour
Blonde_Product Image_Bottle


Special November/December campaign doubles your drinking goodness

On November 1, the 9th Annual “Drink Like You Care” campaign began. All profits donated from November 1-December 31 will be matched by Finnegans’ beer distributors.  The goal of this year’s DLYC campaign is to raise $25,000, which will help the company hit its annual target of raising $100,000 to feed people.

You can also order FINNEGANS Irish Amber and Blonde Ale canned beer online through Surdyk’s Liquor and Cheese Shop for delivery to these states: Alaska, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.  There is a $100 minimum order for mail-order delivery plus a $14 out of state handling fee along with UPS fees based on weight and a $3.90 “adult signature required” fee.  Sure, it’s an investment, but so is ending hunger. Anyway you look at it, you are doing good.

Wouldn’t it be cool if people all over the U.S. buy FINNEGANS for their holiday parties and help the company raise $50,000?

Want to win FINNEGANS for a year?

If you gather with a few friends at your favorite local pub that serves Finnegans in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota or South Dakota, snap a photo of yourself or your beer gang hoisting a Finnegans and post it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with #DLYCHappyHour, and you will be eligible to win a case of Finnegans every month for a year. Or host a Finnegans party and share a photo with #DLYCHappyHour.

Dead Irish Poet_Product Image_Bottle

Finnegans Beer – Here’s To Doing Good from Jennifer Davick on Vimeo featuring Jacquie Berglund and visits to Finnegans’ headquarters and Summit Brewery.

So raise a glass to raise awareness about hunger. Hey, not bad.

For aNewDomain, I’m Terry Gardner.

All images, courtesy of Finnegans. All rights reserved.