Making beer for a good cause starts with the usual ingredients.
Hops. Malted barley. Yeast. Water.
And then, for good measure, you just might add coffee beans.
Michelle Nelson and Janna Henry received their introductory beer-making lesson last month from Flossmoor Station brewmaster Eymard Freire. They helped mix the regular beer ingredients, along with coffee beans from Uganda, in an effort to raise funds for educational programs in that East African nation.
“It’s kind of like making brownies,” said Nelson. “You follow a recipe. But it’s really not like making brownies. It takes a lot longer. And you have to learn how to add the hops at different times, and at different temperatures.”
The result of that beer-making lesson, Kampala Education Ale, makes its debut next week at Flossmoor Station. The first barrel of the new brew, named for the Ugandan capital, will be tapped at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3, at the restaurant, 1035 Sterling Ave. in downtown Flossmoor.
Besides making the beer, Flossmoor Station is helping raise funds for Pangea Educational Development (PED), a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering schools and unifying communities in Uganda through sustainable education.
Nelson said 10 percent of all lunch and dinner sales at the restaurant on Nov. 11 will be donated to the organization. In addition, 15 percent of all sales of Kampala Education Ale during November will go to PED.
Andrew Bauer, a former teacher at Western Avenue School in Flossmoor, is a co-founder of the charitable organization. Bauer now works with gifted students through Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy, but Nelson said he made an indelible impression on her family during his time at Western Avenue.
Nelson and Henry have children who were taught by Bauer. Nelson said he taught her daughter in both fourth and fifth grade.
“He’s phenomenal. He brought the world to his kids,” Nelson said. Bauer regularly would take his students to different locations around the globe via the Internet, she said.
“Every day he’d pick a place and, with Google technology, would be able to take them on a walk through a town on the other side of the world.”
“There’s not a more generous person,” she said, adding that Bauer also instructed Western Avenue students in the fundamentals of robotics and computer programming.
Bauer will be on hand for Tuesday’s tapping ceremony and also plans to make a presentation on PED’s programs in Uganda.
When Nelson and Henry learned about Bauer’s involvement with Pangea Educational Development, they wanted to help the organization. This summer, they approached Sandi Nelson, Flossmoor Station’s general manager, hoping that the restaurant would sponsor a one-night fundraiser during which a percentage of the proceeds would go to PED.
“Sandi said, ‘Yes, we’ll do that, and we’d love to make you a beer, too,’” Nelson said. “They went above and beyond what we originally wanted.”
Sandi Nelson said Flossmoor Station has brewed special beers marking notable events, such as when President Obama was elected. And, over the years, the restaurant has sponsored a number of fundraisers. But this appears to be the first time that a special beer was created as part of a fundraising effort, she said.
“I can’t think of another time that we have done this,” she said. “We are very excited.”
It was clear to Sandi Nelson and other Flossmoor Station staff that Bauer made a difference in the lives of Nelson, Henry and many other Western Avenue parents and their children.
“That’s one of the reasons we wanted to get involved,” she said.
The beer — which will also have notes of orange, lemon, chocolate and butter – is now aging in the tanks at Flossmoor Station. Michelle Nelson said the coffee beans used in making Kampala Education Ale were grown on the slope of Mount Elgon, a 14,000-foot peak on the border between Uganda and Kenya.
Next Tuesday, Nelson and Henry will get their first taste of the beer they helped make. After that, proceeds from the Kampala Education Ale beer will help improve the lives of children nearly 8,000 miles away — one glass at a time.