How to build a beer for your community thumbnail

November 13th, 2017

How to build a beer for your community

cheers to inclusion edna rhoda beer descendants extend-a-family waterloo region

Start with a big idea – maybe something that connects two drastically different worlds. Then start having conversations. Lots of them. And discover along the way that the two worlds were actually interwoven in so many ways.

Building community and beer.


We wanted to highlight the work of Extend-A-Family Waterloo Region (EAFWR) and share it with folks who might not be aware of our impact in the region. And we also wanted to celebrate the people who have shown, time after time, supporting local businesses and community connections means something to them – craft beer lovers.

Why? For us, it was easy. Building a community where everyone belongs and is treated with dignity is not only our mandate – it is at the root of who we are and all that we do.

Which brings us to beer. Don’t we all want to go where everybody knows our name? Give a group of people mugs filled with hops and barley, and soon after, you have a group of friends. From those friends, a community can grow.

We wondered how we could bring two of our favourites together: building community and beer. For this, we turned to Descendants Beer and Beverage Co. Already knowing they are passionate about community, we sat down with Descendants co-owner/operator, Lee Brooks, and discovered that we had more in common than we imagined.

Turns out Lee is not only a fixture in the local craft beer scene; she is also a Special Education teacher with vast experience in the Developmental sector. A perfect fit.

Descendants enthusiastically agreed to develop a beer in partnership with EAFWR, which we would launch in conjunction with The International Day for Persons with Disabilities. The cherry on top? They offered to share a portion of the proceeds with EAFWR.

So, we take Community Development, add in a killer local craft brewery, mix it with a meaningful international day of acknowledgement, and we have something awesome. But holy smokes – what are we going to call the beer?

It had to be perfect. It had to reflect all that EAFWR stood for and what we are about. Many sticky notes and Sharpies later… eureka! We had it.

Edna Rhoda.

Wait. Who? Edna Rhoda, an incomparable woman who resisted the norm of what parenting a child with a disability looked like, over 60 years ago. When society and doctors suggested she place her daughter in an institution, she refuted, “over my dead body”. Edna raised her daughter, who had a full and vibrant life. She did things her own way, guided by the concept that together we are better. Simple, but also monumental.

edna rhoda cheers to inclusion international day of persons with disabilities extend-a-family waterloo region

Possibly my favourite part of this process was when we approached Edna herself with our plan. It is hard to say how many 96-year-olds get to check have a beer named after me off of their bucket list. After a good chuckle, Edna responded the way we hoped she would – “Of course!”.

Months of collaborating, story writing, and designing of labels later, Descendants Brewmaster, Wilson Watson presents to you:

EDNA RHODA GOLDEN CHAI ALEedna rhoda descendants beer cheers to inclusion

An easy drinking ale, with a base of golden rye that has been infused with chai spices of star anise and cinnamon. Low in hops and bitterness, it is sweet and spicy, with bready notes that all come together in an awesome taste that welcomes this chilly weather.

And with that, we have built a beer for our community!

We invite you to join us Sunday December 3rd:  CHEERS TO INCLUSION – launch of EDNA RHODA GOLDEN CHAI ALE2pm-4pm at Descendants. Event details and tickets available here.


We’ll save you a seat!


The Edna Rhoda Ale will be available for a limited time at Descendants after December 3rd, in cans and on draught – don’t miss out! Gift wrapping and EAFWR branded beer coozies are also available at the Cheers to Inclusion –  launch party of Edna Rhoda Golden Chai Ale.