Steel Bender finds much-needed positivity in its latest charity brew

The newest beer-for-a-good-cause cans arrive this Thursday. (All photos courtesy of Mario Caldwell/Steel Bender)

Anyone following Steel Bender on social media probably saw some teasing images of a new canned specialty beer last week. At the start of this week, the beer was unveiled as Shine On Saison, made with passion fruit, and brewed in collaboration with Whole Foods Markets and the Agora Crisis Center.

“It’s been this enthusiastic, fun collaboration between us, Whole Foods, and Agora,” said Steel Bender co-owner/marketing director Shelby Chant. “We had those guys over on brew day. Marita (Weil) brewed this one. Then we had them back on canning day. It’s just been this really positive, much-needed positive experience I think for all of us.”

Steel Bender and Whole Foods Market had been discussing a charity beer as far back as last summer, but various obstacles got in the way of their first idea. They eventually circled back around and got to work.

“Whole Foods came to us and still wanted to do some sort of charity release with us,” Chant said. “They’re always locally minded, but they’ve really become focused on working with New Mexico craft breweries, which is really great. We’re not the first one, and we certainly won’t be the last.”

Steel Bender has also been raising funds for Agora the past few years, and Chant said it was an easy decision to bring them in as the nonprofit that a portion of the proceeds would benefit.

“We got in touch with Agora, we’ve gotten to know those folks well,” Chant said. “They were really excited to do this. We met with the Whole Foods folks and Agora folks over Zoom. At that point, Adam (Auden) had already been talking about the different kinds (of beers). They wanted to do something fruited, and they wanted to do a saison. Whole Foods helped us figure it out. We would do a passionfruit. Whole Foods came up with the name, Shine On.”

Marita Weil is the brewer behind Shine On Saison.

Shine On will be released on draft and in six-packs this Thursday at Steel Bender. The six-packs will also be sold at the three Whole Foods Market locations — two in Albuquerque, one in Santa Fe — starting next Monday, April 5. The six-packs will be priced at $15 each.

“It’s limited (in supply),” Chant said. “This is not the size of One for 5. This one we expect to go pretty fast. The six-packs will go quickly, then draft.”

A portion of can and draft sales will go directly to Agora, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. The crisis center is located on the UNM campus, but helps people from all over the world, over the phone or online. For more information, check out their official website.

“I think it goes without saying that something that’s on my mind a lot, that’s on all of our minds, when this (pandemic) is behind us, the mental health ramifications are going to be with us for a long time,” Chant said. “This is important what they’re doing.”

Chant reiterated that is has been a pleasure working with both Agora and Whole Foods Market.

“I’m glad how this turned out,” she said. “We are going to feeling this for a long, long time. Anything people can do, I know they’ll do. People can donate directly to their website, that goes straight to the volunteers. Buy a beer, buy a six-pack, just help.”

We raise our glasses to everyone involved, and thank Shelby for taking time out of her busy schedule to chat over the phone.

Keep supporting local!

— Stoutmeister

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