Søren Parker Wagner has always loved beer. He started home brewing in 2006, worked as head brewer at Nørrebro Bryghus, and opened his first bar in 2011 while finishing university. After he graduated, he worked four days a week behind the bar in the evenings, while holding down a day job as a teacher.
But then he was presented with a once a lifetime opportunity. A brewery had gone into foreclosure and he had the chance to buy the equipment for a great price. So in 2015, he went all in, quitting his job as a teacher, starting his own brewery, Dry & Bitter, and eventually one more Fermentoren bar in Aarhus.
“Beer was always part of my life but I never thought it could be my career,” says Wagner, modestly.
Two years ago, that Wagner realised that he could use the popularity and social nature of good beer for a more meaningful purpose.
“We were sitting with one of my brewery friends, we were talking over a beer about the state of the world, and how awful everything was with the refugee crisis in Syria. But the problem was that we were just two privileged white dudes just talking about it not doing something about it.”
The result of this conversation was an event titled Pints for Humanity. The idea was to have a barbeque and share some beers sold from kegs donated by friends in the industry. But once the event was put on Facebook it grew rapidly and in the end there were more than 500 people, with 36 kegs, and more than 70,000 kroner raised.
He now hopes to repeat the success this Tuesday at Fermentoren during Mikkeller Beer Celebration Copenhagen, with the launch of Hops Not Hate.
“The concept is quite simple: the brewery makes a beer, they sell it on to distributor who then sells it on to a bottle shop or bar, but they donate 50 percent of the profits to charity, all throughout the supply chain. Half goes to charities based within 30 kilometres, and half to a global organisation. Then when it’s sold on they follow the same principle. Every step in the supply chain contributes and it’s easy for the consumer to do something charitable. When they see the Hops Not hate Logo they know they are donating to six or seven charities and because the 50 percent comes from profits, it’s a sustainable model for all involved.”
There are now 24 breweries involved in the project, including British Beavertown and American Other Half. On Tuesday, at the ‘Hops Not Hate’ launch at Fermentoren, they will launch the first beer made in collaboration with brewery Cloudwater – a passionfruit IPA appropriately titled ‘Compassion’.
There will be plenty of kegs, and even a hot dog van set up with a specially commissioned chilli sauce entitled ‘Hot Not Hate’. It’s an event that’s open to all, utilising what Wagner calls a “conglomerate of beer-nerdism” to give social drinking a social consciousness and start a conversation around charitable giving.
“I’m a historian by trade, I have a special love for pubs, as it’s there that political ideas always get shared. At Fermentoren there’s supposed to be room for everybody and if people come here and like it and like hanging out, the leap to giving back is not that far. The core idea is that simply by spending five to ten kroner more, the customer gains a better quality product and gives so much back,” he says.
“In a world that can be completely shit, it’s great to have a counterpoint. This isn’t just a well-intentioned hipster project, only for the big boys, our message is totally inclusive: come join the party. Hops Not Hate is open source as long as you follow the guidelines.”
Visit the Hops Not Hate Facebook page and Instagram to learn more, and keep an eye out for the Hops Not hate logo in shops and bars around Copenhagen and beyond. M
For more information visit the Facebook event here.