The first time I heard about lupus was when a dear friend informed me their nephew had died from it. Needless to say, the term lupus stuck with me after that, but it wasn’t for another 18 years that I’d finally learn what this chronic autoimmune disease is all about. You’re probably wondering: what led to such a sudden education?
Last year, after several years of painful suffering, I was diagnosed with lupus. Remembering back to the story of my friend’s nephew left me less than enthused, but at that point I was more overcome by a sense of relief than dread. The symptoms I’d endured for the better part of seven years were so intense — rashes, sores, joint and muscle aches, gastrointestinal agony, exhaustion, and severe pains that felt like electric shocks going off in my brain — that my quality of life had eroded dramatically. It had reached the point where I questioned my ability to work or live any semblance of a normal, productive life.
I have always been driven and energetic. This mostly manifests itself via my productivity as a writer. I devote 25 to 50 hours a week to this endeavor, and that’s on top of the 40 to 50 hours a week I spend on my day job. It is admittedly stressful to operate in this manner, but the reward of pouring my passion into such worthwhile endeavors has always made it worth it. Thing is, stress is the main cause of my lupus flare-ups. Since doctors were unable to diagnose my condition for over half-a-decade (despite consulting many doctors and undergoing many tests, including some that were rather intrusive), I was unknowingly giving the disease leverage simply by doing my jobs to the best of my ability.
My unyielding drive to write 300 to 400 articles a year and meet all of my deadlines at work was bringing on more flare-ups at an increasingly frequent pace. In addition to rendering one too pained and weary to do anything other than lay idle as symptoms abate, flare-ups also cause one’s immune system to attack organs, doing irreparable damage in the process. By pushing myself, I was unknowingly killing myself. Once we discovered lupus was the cause, my physician, a noted expert on this disease, advised me to slow down to the point of stopping altogether until I could be put on medication to help manage my symptoms. Despite those orders, I was able to triage my deadlines and prioritize to meet them all in a manner that those outside my circle of family and friends weren’t able to discern that anything was different, but doing so was incredibly difficult.
I am lucky to be under an expert’s care and, after months of undergoing testing to ready myself for a drug treatment plan, anti-malaria medication that has been shown to work for lupus. Truth be told, I’m just lucky to have a diagnosis. Unbelievably there is no definitive test for diagnosing this widespread, yet hardly understood and under-researched disease. That means there are many people out there who are in the same boat as I was — suffering in confusion without the relief of a diagnosis or the ability provided by prescription pharmaceuticals to lessen lupus’ impact on their lives. I want to change this.
I am not famous, but thanks to those who read what I write, I do have a voice and platforms that I’d like to use to help make a difference for lupus sufferers through a campaign I have initiated called Beer to the Rescue. One of the most incredible things I’ve witnessed in my years of covering the craft beer industry is the willingness and ability of its member companies to help out charity causes, campaigns, and non-profit organizations. Prime examples include the fights against breast cancer, ALS, and prostate cancer. Over the course of the past month, I reached out to a number of local brewing companies, asking them to contribute their energy and high quality beer to assisting lupus victims. Not surprisingly, almost all of them jumped onboard, giving life and promise to Beer to the Rescue.
This campaign involves the debut of more than 20 special beers over the next 12 months, all of which will be produced by local breweries so a portion of proceeds from their sale can be donated to the Lupus Foundation of Southern California (LFSC). Many of the breweries will hold release parties or similar events where representatives from the LFSC will be on-hand to help raise awareness and educate the public on the disease. Most of the companies offered to hold events without being asked, and every one of them offered up a higher percentage of proceeds than the LFSC expected. Such is the generous and compassionate nature of this industry, something every bit as impressive as the ales and lagers it yields. The following is a list of the brewing companies that have signed on to participate in the Beers to the Rescue campaign:
Not all of the aforementioned breweries will brew beers due to production constraints, but all will assist in some way, from events to donations and other charitable actions. The first three beers to debut as part of this campaign will come from Benchmark Brewing Company, Nickel Beer Company and Monkey Paw Pub & Brewery.
Benchmark Brewing has contributed its biggest hop-bomb to-date, a triple India pale ale (IPA) called “Hildegard” as their addition to the Beer to the Rescue roster. It’s apt considering the beer is named after an ancient healer who cured the suffering in medieval times. Hildegard IIIPA will debut during a release party benefitting the LFSC on Saturday, January 31 at 1 p.m. at the brewery’s tasting room that will include a commemorative glass for patrons to take home with them.
In December, I spent a Sunday hoisting bags of grain, wielding a mash paddle, and cleaning out the mash tun as award-winning brewmaster Tom Nickel and I brewed up a Belgian-style quadrupel called “Double Dubbel.” At press time, the beer was still fermenting, but it figures to finish out around 10% alcohol-by-volume and have its coming out party at Nickel’s venerable Kearny Mesa craft beer bar, O’Brien’s Pub, on Friday, February 6 at 5 p.m. And later this year, a version of the beer aged in rum barrels will debut under the moniker “Double Dubbel Animal-Style,” so there’s even more goodness to come.
Later in February, a Belgian-style table beer (singel) brewed with rhubarb and dry-hopped with Azacca and Nelson Sauvin hops will make its debut at Monkey Paw. Information about that and other upcoming campaign-related beers and events will be provided via San Diego Beer News as well as the recently established Beer to the Rescue Facebook page and Twitter account. For more information on lupus or the LFSC, check out the Lupus Foundation of Southern California website. And if any other breweries—here or anywhere—would like to participate in the Beer to the Rescue campaign, feel free to reach out via email. We’d love to hear from you and all are welcomed. Cheers to the terrific breweries taking part in this effort, and cheers to beer and its ability to make lives better in such a variety of ways.