A community beer: Wachusett brews IPA for Covid-19 relief

By Matthew Tota / Correspondent Worcester Magazine
A month ago, which feels like a year, Wachusett Brewing Co. had been preparing to launch a new beer that it believed would usurp “Wally” as its most popular hazy IPA. Wachusett even gave the beer a name worthy of its towering expectations: “Glory American IPA.”
For the last six months, Wachusett secretly tested Glory at its Westminster Brew Yard under the nondescript moniker, “IPA X.” Brewery president Christian McMahan kept track of Glory’s score on the rating app Untappd. Positive reviews poured in, as Glory leapfrogged into the top five best-rated beers in Wachusett’s profile.
“Glory was going to be our new big beer of the year,” McMahan said.
We all know what happened next.
Wachusett was ready to delay Glory’s release indefinitely amid the worsening public health crisis. Then, McMahan said, the brewery started thinking about how the beer could still live up to expectations, but not because it earned high ratings on some app or outsold other IPAs.
So, on Tuesday, with help from Worcester’s Atlas Distributing Inc., Wachusett will release Glory to raise money for United Way COVID-19 relief efforts throughout Central Massachusetts and MetroWest.
“We thought, let’s reverse our thinking and make the first packaged COVID-19 fundraising campaign in the industry,” McMahan said. “We’re going to raise as much money and awareness as we can.”
Wachusett and Atlas have pledged to donate a dollar from every six-pack of cans sold to three funds: The Worcester Together fund, established by the Greater Worcester Community Foundation and the United Way of Central Massachusetts, The United Way of North Central Massachusetts Stand United Fund, and the United Way of Tri-County Community Response Fund.
“So many individuals, companies and organizations have taken such incredible measures to help the Central Massachusetts community in remarkable ways,” said Jamie Salois, a vice president at Atlas. “This is one small way that both Wachusett and Atlas can help contribute along with United Way’s amazing efforts.”
As of last week, the Worcester Together Fund alone had raised $4 million for the immediate response to the outbreak and the long-term recovery efforts, while donating $400,000 in grants to area nonprofits.
The fund has covered basic needs, including providing food to pantries like the Friendly House in Worcester as well as meals for the Boys & Girls Club of Worcester’s “Grab & Go” program for families. The first of its kind in the state, the fund has also paid for emergency childcare programs for first responders and frontline workers, temporary shelters for the homeless and expanded mental health services, including covering the added costs for telehealth.
“It almost feels like a field operation in a war,” said Tim Garvin, president and CEO the United Way of Central Massachusetts, of the organization’s response.