This holiday season, filling a pint also fills a stocking for a child in need.
Philanthropists of Gainesville, say hello to the Stocking Stuffer Ale, a limited edition, collaborative brew between Liquid Nation Brewing and the Gainesville Jaycees to bring exposure to the organization’s Empty Stocking Fund.
Each year since its inception in 1955, the project has ensured roughly 250 children, primarily middle schoolers, who might otherwise go without have a present to open on Christmas morning.
According to Gainesville Jaycees President Jess Gravitt, members of the organization will head to Walmart around 6 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 10 with the donated funds and shopping lists from the children’s families to secure clothing essentials, shoes, toys and other gift items, which are then boxed up and given to the families to unwrap on Christmas morning.
“It’s probably one of the most impactful things we do in the community,” Gravitt said.
At 5.8% alcohol by volume, the Stocking Stuffer is a crisp West Coast-style pale ale with hints of grapefruit, malty sweetness and a spicy, floral hops flavor delivering a mild, lingering bitterness.
Connoisseurs can find the ale on tap at Liquid Nation Brewing, Downtown Drafts, Tap It and Smitty’s Cigar Lounge in Gainesville and Beer Me in Flowery Branch.
A percentage of the beverage sales will go toward the Empty Stocking Fund.
“We both (Liquid Nation and Gainesville Jaycees) try to support the community and support each other,” Liquid Nation brewer Patrick McCormac said. “We try to help out those who can’t really help themselves, whatever it may be, whoever it may be. If we can use our platform to help others, we will do that.”
Rather than pulling out all the stops with a funkier holiday concoction, McCormac said the Stocking Stuffer Ale is a refreshing, easy-drinking style of beer connoisseurs are probably most familiar with.
“A little bit hoppy but also malty, so you get a great balance of the two. It’s something that people who might just be getting to know craft beer seem to enjoy. Even for those like ourselves here at the brewery who have been around it for a long time, it’s still one of our favorite styles to go back to. We felt like the more people could drink and raise awareness, the better.”
Liquid Nation founder Nilanjan “Pap” Datta hopes the collaboration “catches on,” growing into an annually anticipated release.
“The bottom line is we’re part of the community, and part of our community engagement has always been to find ways to help kids that can’t help themselves,” Datta said. “This felt right in our bailiwick. At the end of the day, people are meaning to, in a passive way, make good for the community. And this is a very passive way — you buy a beer and you help those who can’t help themselves.”
The Jaycees are accepting contributions to the Empty Stocking Fund throughout December, as a few extra names are often added to the shopping list after the Saturday shopping event. The Jaycees are also prone to dig into their own pockets to ensure the recipients’ needs and holiday wishes are covered, according to Gainesville Jaycees board member Matt Smith.
“Everything’s more expensive; a hundred bucks that used to go a long way doesn’t go quite as far now,” Smith said. “The more we raise, the more kids we can buy for. Even if we have a number right now of 250, every year I’m shocked if we don’t end up going and buying for a few more kids.”
Direct donations to the Empty Stocking Fund can be made via Venmo to @GainesvilleJaycees, or mailed to Gainesville Jaycees, Attn: Empty Stocking Fund, P.O. Box 126, Gainesville, Ga., 30503.