Brewing with (and for) a cause

Posted at 7:28 PM, May 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-11 20:28:36-04

Editors note: Welcome to “Life on the Fringe,” an every so-often look at the world of fringe (or non) sports topics. Enjoy! 

I’ve often dreamed of a magical, far off world where we all sit around a giant wooden table, drinking craft beer while laughing and exchanging tales of old, and somehow managing to serve the greater good at the same time. 

Thanks to the Nebraska Brewing Co. in La Vista, and a special program from Arrogant Bastard Brewing in Escondido, California (and by extension, Stone Brewing Co.), my dream world is becoming reality, at least in part. 

On Thursday, May 12th, Nebraska Brewing Co. will break the seal on the kegs of Nebraska made Arrogant Bastard Ale, a locally brewed recreation of Arrogant Bastard Brewing’s flagship brew. It’s part of a program Arrogant Bastard Brewing is championing to collaborate with other breweries and benefit local charities. 

Across the country, craft breweries were hand picked to participate in the program, and Nebraska Brewing Co. was lucky enough to be one of them. 

“We’ve always respected and admired Stone Brewing Company and looked to them as one of the early brash breweries to blaze a trail for the rest of us,” said Nebraska Brewing Co. co-owner Paul Kavulak in a press release. 

“To be hand-picked by them to brew Arrogant Bastard Ale is a great privilege. We’re thrilled to be a part of this effort and proud to have this Bastard among us.” 

Arrogant Bastard Brewing shared their top secret recipe, with the condition that the proceeds from the sale of the beer go to charity. The beer can only be sold in Nebraska Brewing Company’s two retail locations, the main brewery and tap room (108th and Harrison St.) and brewpub and restaurant (Shadow Lake Town Center). 


In this case, proceeds from the beer will benefit Nebraska Medicine Truhlsen Eye Institute’s American Craft Beer Curing Blindness program , a charity that NBC has worked with before. A portion of the dollars raised from their annual Great Nebraska Beer Fest also benefit the cause. 

Led by Dr. Michael Feilmeier and The University of Nebraska Medical Center, the Global Blindness Prevention Division at Truhlsen Eye Institutes aims to restore sight to patients living with a curable or preventable form of blindness..  The most recent campaign provided 952 sight-restoring surgeries in 4 days in Ethiopia. 

Lets go back to my dream world for a moment. I can imagine very few ways to make it better (at least not without involving six foot pizzas served by centaurs), save for perhaps being involved in brewing the delicious libation in which we are partaking.  

Full disclaimer - although I’ve enjoyed more than my fair share of craft beer in my life, I’ve never brewed a drop. In fact, I have trouble figuring out how to brew coffee in my wife’s fancy machine most mornings. 


Enter Tyson Arp, Brewmaster at Nebraska Brewing Co. 


I was fortunate enough to be invited to help brew the Bastard a few weeks ago to launch the special project, and given the full behind the scenes treatment. 

“The cool thing for me as a brewer, I started as a home brewer looking up to some of the founding fathers of craft brewing like Stone and Arrogant Bastard,” said Arp. “It’s humbling for them to choose us to be a part of a project like this. It shows they’re paying attention to us in Nebraska, and I’m honored they think highly enough to have us be involved. 


Start to finish, the brewing process took about 6 hours, but patience is tested in the two week plus wait for the beer to ferment while the yeast works its magic. 

The process of brewing in a larger quantity (around 10-12 barrels) was fascinating. It started by literally cutting open bags of malted barley (a top secret blend that helps give this Bastard its distinct flavor), running the grain through a mill, mixing it with water, and letting the deliciously sweet wort trickle back down through the grain in a colander type vessel called the lauter tun. 

From there, the Bastard was brought to a boil, a variety of magical hops were added, then cooled and sent off the fermentation tanks to turn into what we’ll all be able to consume on May 12th. 

It may sound simple, but I was surprised by how scientific the process ended up being. From specific temperature measurements, to examining and counting yeast cells under a microscope to ensure good health and proper quantity, this process wasn’t for a rookie. 

So mark your calendars for Thursday, May 12th. Stop by the Nebraska Brewing Company and sample what promises to be a one of a kind beer (provided I didn’t mess it up too bad, I suppose…), for a great cause. Maybe a small piece of my dream world is coming true after all.