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‘Golden Rule Saison,’ brewed in response to HB2, due out May 15

“Don’t Be Mean to People: A Golden Rule Saison,” brewed at Ponysaurus in Durham, will be released in mid-May.
“Don’t Be Mean to People: A Golden Rule Saison,” brewed at Ponysaurus in Durham, will be released in mid-May. rwillett@newsobserver.com

The beer brewed in response to North Carolina’s controversial new LGBT law is just about ready, with its creators claiming pleasant surprise at the responses so far.

But wait, don’t turn the page or click away just yet – this isn’t a political story. It’s just about the beer itself, “Don’t Be Mean to People: A Golden Rule Saison,” which will be released in mid-May.

A collaboration brew/fundraiser from 30 local breweries, it began in early April as a response to the anti-LGBT law, commonly called HB2.

The beer’s name insinuates that people who support HB2 are not being nice. I’m sure supporters would disagree. I won’t go to get into the politics of who’s right or wrong. But I do think the Golden Rule is a pretty great mantra in general, and the brewers have actually chosen to make the beer itself as apolitical and positive as possible.

“Even if you have a negative message for a good reason, you’re still being negative,” said Erik Lars Myers, one of the brewers who came up with the idea.

Sure, there’s the whole politically charged campaign behind the beer. But the label won’t say a word about HB2 or politics – just the names of the breweries who helped, and the words “Don’t Be Mean to People.”

That means people who want to be political can still be involved, while people who just like the message or the taste don’t have to bring politics into their drinking.

Myers, who is the founder of Hillsborough’s Mystery Brewing and president of the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild, was the main brewer for it along with Keil Jansen of Ponysaurus Brewing Co. in Durham.

It was a direct response to the negative headlines and business backlash against North Carolina as HB2 became national news.

“I think we’re better than that here,” Myers said, adding he has family and friends who are transgender. “As soon as this happened, North Carolina got a lot of negative attention, and this was the best thing we could think of to counteract that more positively.”

As soon as this happened, North Carolina got a lot of negative attention, and this was the best thing we could think of to counteract that more positively.

Erik Lars Myers, brewer and organizer of anti-HB2 beer

The message worked – after this paper and others locally wrote about it, the story got picked up by NPR, Huffington Post, Men’s Journal and more.

Brewed at Ponysaurus Brewing in Durham, the beer’s announcement coincided with an Indiegogo “Generosity” page that is raising money for two pro-gay groups.

Originally, they had a goal of raising $1,500. They’re now at nearly $40,000. Politically minded people still have time to go to that page and donate in exchange for beer and/or other prizes. Donations will be split between EqualityNC, a gay and transgender rights lobbying group, and QORDS, a summer camp for LGBT youth.

The beer will finish brewing this week and should starting going out to donors around May 15, Myers said. That’s about when kegs will also go out to the 30 breweries that helped out.

People who don’t want to donate but still want to try the beer – Myers said it’s a crisp, fruity and slightly tangy saison with hints of grapefruit – will be able to get it at those breweries. A full list can be found on the Generosity webpage.

They’ve already brewed 45 barrels and may do another 30, with Ponysaurus handling the bulk of the work. And while there have been some nasty comments in response, Myers said the positive response has been much greater.

And that’s good, since positivity is sorely lacking on both sides of our political discourse. I’m all for reminding people to be nice, and a beer is as good a start as any.

Doran: 919-836-2858; Twitter: @will_doran

Upcoming events

▪ May 7 is the official Congress-approved National Homebrewers Day. If you’re a homebrewer, stay at home and brew. If you’re curious, go to Bull City Homebrew at 1906 E. N.C. 54 in Durham between noon and 5 p.m. for demonstrations and more.

Info: bullcityhomebrew.com

▪ May 14 is Createfest at Draft Line Brewing Co. in Fuquay-Varina. From noon-7 p.m., there will be live bands, an open mic, local artists and a crafts market. Brewery is at 341 Broad St., Suite 151.

Info: draftlinebrewing.com

▪ May 14-15: Two Durham bottle shops will host an exploration of sour beers. A wide variety of sour beers will be on tap May 14 at Sam’s Bottle Shop, 112 W. N.C. 54, and May 15, The Glass Jug, 5410 N.C. 55.

▪ May 21 is the Durham Blues and Brews Festival from 5-10 p.m. at Durham Central Park, 501 Foster St. Tickets are $40, or $20 for nondrinkers.

Info: durhambluesandbrewsfestival.com

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