Pintful: Carolina Brewing Company makes charity part of its craft beer mission

john.frank@newsobserver.comSeptember 24, 2013 

  • What’s on tap Steel String Beer Release

    6-11 p.m. Wednesday, 106 S. Greensboro St., Carrboro.

    A new double India pale ale hits the local scene Wednesday. Steel String Craft Brewery calls it “Crying Holy,” a nod to their musical theme. The event includes a raffle, and a portion of the proceeds will go to the Coalition to Unchain Dogs. Info:

    Carolina Brewing Company Oktoberfest Bash

    4-10 p.m. Saturday, 140 Thomas Mill Road, Holly Springs.

    The event includes live music, food trucks, cornhole, kid-friendly atmosphere, and of course, Oktoberfest beer. Proceeds go to the National MS Society. Don’t miss the brewery’s wet-hopped IPA, also on tap this weekend. Info:

    Raleigh Brewing Company Tour

    3 p.m. Saturday, 3709 Neil St., Raleigh.

    Get a peek inside one of Raleigh’s newer breweries with a $5 tour. Also, try to grab a pint of a test batch of the brewery’s new Oatmeal Imperial Stout, set for release this winter. Info:

    World Beer Festival Durham

    12-4 p.m. and 6-10 p.m. Oct. 5 at Durham Athletic Park

    The fall World Beer Festival returns to Durham for two Saturday sessions. Tickets are available for both sessions for $45. VIP tickets are sold out. The North Carolina section is growing big, so don’t miss the local brewers. Info:

Greg Shuck can deliver a good one-liner.

The president of Carolina Brewing Company in Holly Springs, one of the area’s oldest craft breweries, stamps each of his bottles with the phrases “All it takes is a liver and a dream” and “Brewers of Tasty Liquids.”

The slogans speak to the brewery’s founding and its mission. But another, less obvious credo guides Shuck and his brewery: “Beer can make a positive change in people’s lives.”

Carolina Brewing Company makes charity a key part of its operation, sponsoring a road biking team with more than 150 members. Craft beer and charity are often linked, but few breweries dedicate as much as Shuck’s team.

In the past decade, Team CBC has raised more than $700,000 for the National MS Society through the Greater Carolinas Chapter. And an Oktoberfest event Saturday at the brewery will add to the effort.

The cause is personal for Shuck, 43. His wife, Maura, 45, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998, a few weeks before he met her. Maura worked for Frederick Brewing in Maryland at the time but left beer-making behind because of her disease. She now works in fundraising.

“Riding and raising money for the National MS Society is the way I can contribute to a cure someday,” Shuck said. “I want my two children to grow up with a mother that can do all the things my mother was able to do for me.”

The MS Society describes the disease as chronic and often disabling. The immune system attacks the central nervous system, whether the brain, spinal cord or optic nerves, causing symptoms from numbness in the limbs to severe paralysis.

With daily medication for the past 12 years, Shuck says his wife is doing well. But for others, particularly those without medication and resources, “the story is different,” he said.

The society helps fund research and provides help to pay for prescriptions for those who can’t afford it.

“I fully believe that some point in my lifetime they will have a cure for MS,” Shuck said. “They are really making advances and making people’s live a lot more livable.”

The company contributes to the effort by sponsoring the bike team and offering free beer from the brewery after rides. CBC began sponsoring the team, offering bike jerseys with the yellow lion logo, about 10 years ago when it included a dozen riders.

Now, team membership has grown tenfold, and it stands alone as its own nonprofit. Shuck rides, too. About 25 percent of the team has a personal connection to the disease.

The beer at the end of the Sunday rides serves as an incentive for those training to complete the two-day, 150-mile Bike MS event each September in New Bern. The big fundraiser draws thousands and raises nearly $2 million for the MS Society.

Shuck expects the event this weekend featuring the brewery’s Oktoberfest lager will raise another $5,000. Carolina Brewing donates all profits and expects a couple of hundred people at the brewery for music, food trucks and games.

“We plan to raise much, much more in the years to come,” Shuck said.

What I’m tasting

The Oktoberfest Lager is one of Carolina Brewing Company’s top-selling seasonals, and the brewery began distributing it in six-packs for the first time this year. Joe Zonin, one of the owners, describes it as classic to the style with a malt-forward caramel sweetness and a slight touch of spicy German hops to provide balance. The medium-body style is great for new entrants to the craft beer world. Stats: 5.7 percent ABV; six-packs for about $9.

Contact John at 919-829-4698 or

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