The Michigan Brewery Building the Rally Community
If you were in the service area at Southern Ohio Forest Rally this year you might have noticed something at Bardha Racing's service bay, a few trays of beers with his very car printed on them.
These brews, crafted by Austin Brothers Beer Company out of Alpena, MI are named after the famous Press of Regardless Rally that used to run in the northern part of the state, as well as the famous motto held by many rally teams.
"Press on Regardless Pale Ale is an American pale ale featuring Meridian, Simcoe, Centennial, and Mosaic hops, and comes in at 5.5% ABV," the companies FaceBook page explains. "It pays tribute to the rally manrta, Press on Regardless, where you finish the race, no matter what."
Chris Hiekkuri, Director of Sales at Austin Bros. is a huge fan of rallying, and wanted to create the Press on Regardless Pale Ale to both support those in rallying, and also to bring more interest in for those who aren't.
"So there are a couple reasons we decided to do a rally beer," he said. "First of all, Sno*Drift and Summer Sno*Drift are basically right in our backyard, we are 30-45 minutes east of the Atlanta/Hillman/Lewiston area."
"Those events bring people and tourism into our area, and we are grateful for that."
"Personally," Hiekurri adds, "I wanted to do it because I have been attending and volunteering for Sno*Drift on and off for over 10 years and love rally."
"I have gotten to know many of the local drivers and wanted to do something special for them."
"This beer is our way to say thanks to the rally community for coming back year after year, [the rally] is a great boost to the local economy, especially now that spectators will be back again. It also gives someone from out of town something local to seek out while they are here."
Hiekkuri said that many team members and drivers contacted him after Sno*Drift this year having found some of Austin Bros. product locally. Being that Austin Bros. only sells locally, it's just that little more incentive to come to Michigan's rallys for teams and fans alike.
"It also helps to raise awareness in Alpena for the events themselves," Hiekkuri explains, "I have had people that have lived here for years reach out and ask more about them after seeing the beers, they had heard of it but had no idea what it was all about.
Austin Bros. doesn't want to just be a passive help to the rally community with the drinks, though, but to actively support volunteers, teams, and fans as much as they can.
"We also will be donating swag for the [Summer Sno*Drift] volunteer bags, because we would like to encourage as many people as we can to get involved in rally, and volunteering is definitely a great way to get bit by the rally bug!"
"We also know how important it is to get as many volunteers as possible to these events, as they are a huge undertaking."
Looking forward, Austin Bros. hopes to continue the Press on Regardless Pale Ale if the sales continue to be successful. The newest run of cans replaced Bardha's Impreza with Al Dantes Jr's famous LS-swapped RX-7.
The idea is to keep the Michigan pride with each team that gets featured on the cans, and a few other teams have already been contacted to prepare photos for use by Austin Bros. in the future.
Being that the brewery doesn't sell far from home, if you want to try this drink, or any of the many other brews they offer, it might be worth your time to head out to Summer Sno*Drift this weekend, or even Lake Superior Performance Rally in the fall!