Keil Jansen, Brewmaster at Ponysaurus Brewing in Durham, knows a thing or two about brewing good beer.
When HB2 passed, “Our initial impulse was to be really angry. But we realized pretty quickly that if we wanted this to be a bigger movement, we weren’t going to do ourselves any favors by being angry.” As a former public school teacher, Keil was keenly aware that not all communities are as accepting of LGBTQ youth as the Triangle area.
“My reaction was, alright, we need to figure out a way to support the kids that are going to suffer the most.”
So he and Erik Myers from Mystery Brewing paired up to do what they do best: make beer.
And thus the Don’t Be Mean to People beer was born, a collaboration between Ponysaurus, Mystery Brewing, and over 30 breweries across the state. As Keil sees it, “There are people out there actually doing the work of supporting people who are being discriminated against. The best thing that we can do is raise the money” to support that work.
Their fundraising campaign raised $20,000 for Equality NC and Queer Oriented Radical Days of Summer, a summer camp for queer-identified youth. And they recently released another batch of the beer. (“People actually seem to like the beer,” Keil quips, “not just the politics.”)
Keil knows that Ponysaurus has a unique “privilege” being in a supportive community. “If we don’t then turn around and use the position that we’ve been given to do the right thing, then we don’t deserve to be a part of our community. We’re doing it because other people cannot. We can do something. And we should.”