One of Andy Jungwirth’s roles at Lakefront Brewery is his work as their Export Manager, which has led him to visit several countries to represent the brewery at festivals in Japan, China, and Lithuania. He’s helped broker deals to get Lakefront on shelves in Canada, South Korea, and recently he’s been working on a deal with Panama.
“Every foreign market has different standards you need to meet to ship beer there,” Jungwirth says, so he goes through the checklist for each shipment with the production team, making sure the product has the right date codes, shipping documents, and customs paperwork.
One of Jungwirth’s biggest foreign relation efforts has been with Ukraine, which he’s visited six times since 2016.
“It’s fun over there. People are really passionate about craft beer,” Jungwirth says. “It’s an exciting, modern country. The people are lively and intelligent and funny, and they’re very proud of their country.”
News of Russia invading Ukraine hit Jungwirth hard.
“I felt absolutely outraged. Pissed off. I’m constantly watching European news streams, and the images are just appalling,” Jungwirth says. “These are my friends, and some of my friends are ready to pick up guns and fight.”
Lakefront’s relationship with Ukraine started in 2015, when the Brewers Association, which Lakefront is a part of, put out word that one of the largest Ukrainian grocery store chains was looking for American imports. Jungwirth met with reps from Ukraine at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Eventually a deal was struck and now Lakefront can be found in stores across Ukraine. In 2016, Jungwirth represented Lakefront at the Beermaster Days festival in Kyiv. His most recent trip to Ukraine was last summer.
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Jungwirth struck up a working relationship and friendship with a Ukrainian brewery in Lviv called Pravda Brewing. They worked together to brew a collaborative India Pale Lager called “Lviv-Milwaukee” as well as a draft only juniper berry blonde ale, brewed with juniper berries sourced from a local mountain.
“What drew me to Pravda is they had the best quality beer – everything was top notch – and their bold, provocative marketing. Since 2015 they have made this beer that’s a dry hop golden ale called Putin Huilo which translates to ‘Putin is a Dickhead.’ The label is a funny, critical parody that obviously speaks to the Ukrainian people, but they’ve also taken digs at other foreign leaders,” Jungwirth says, noting they also brewed a Trump-themed Mexican lager. “And they’re great people. They’ve been at all the beer fests I’ve gone to over there, I’ve got on with them well and partied with them afterwards.”
But things are different at Pravda Brewery now. Instead of filling their Putin Hulio bottles with ale, they’ve been pouring accelerants into them so they can be used as Molotov cocktails against Russian invaders.
Jungwirth also developed connections at Underwood Brewery, located just outside of Kyiv, who invited Lakefront to collaborate with them. That led to a cold IPA called 5,000 Miles (the distance between Lakefront and Underwood, as well as a notorious earworm by The Proclaimers) that was brewed in June of last year.
When Russia began its attack on Ukraine, Jungwirth was filled with an overwhelming sense he needed to do something. There was no time to make a benefit brew, but Lakefront decided to make a special 32-ounce crowler can people can fill with their preferred beer, with all proceeds to be donated to Ukrainian refugee relief funds (it’s estimated that a million Ukrainians have fled their country since the start of the war). The crowler has a design that reads “Putin is a Dick,” a tribute to their provocative friends at Pravda Brewing.
Lakefront projects the crowler benefit will raise $10,000 or more. It’s already gotten a viral response and they’ve fielded phone calls from around the country from people who want to get their hands on one. Jungwirth says it’s likely they’ll make a T-shirt of the design, too.
Crowlers are on sale now, order here.
“We have a personal connection with colleagues there, so I think we’re uniquely positioned to raise funds and spread word for the Ukrainian cause,” Jungwirth says. “We’re proud to.”
Lakefront Brewery is currently working on an online order link for the crowler. Their website, with info on hours and menu, is at lakefrontbrewery.com.