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Saving the world one beer at a time

In 2012, Dave and Quynh Rathkamp opened America’s first 100 percent philanthropic brewery in Marble Falls, Texas. I first read about this Christian couple and their unique endeavour in my local newspaper. I was so intrigued by what I read, I decided to contact them to discover how God had led Dave, 49, and Quynh, 47, to establish Save the World Brewing Company. Here’s what Quynh shared with me.

Saving the world one  beer at a time

photo CREDIT; The second shooter

An interview with Quynh Rathkamp

In 2012, Dave and Quynh Rathkamp opened America’s first 100 percent philanthropic brewery in Marble Falls, Texas. I first read about this Christian couple and their unique endeavour in my local newspaper. I was so intrigued by what I read, I decided to contact them to discover how God had led Dave, 49, and Quynh, 47, to establish Save the World Brewing Company. Here’s what Quynh shared with me.

Christian Courier: What did you do professionally before you established Save the World Brewing Company?
Quynh Rathkamp: We were both physicians. Dave was a pediatrician, and I practiced both internal medicine and pediatrics.

How did God lead you to establish the brewery as a philanthropic endeavor?
Our brother-in-law gave Dave a homebrew kit more than 20 years ago. Dave really enjoyed homebrewing and kept perfecting his recipes. About five years ago he attended a men’s Bible study, and they discussed passion – how God gives us passion, and we’re supposed to use that in our livelihoods. Dave came home and told me that he was more passionate about brewing. My passion is for charity/missions. So we together decided God was telling us to pursue those passions by merging them into a charitable brewery, hence the name. Dave retired first and studied with the America Brewers Guild to become a professional brewer. Our favorite styles of beer are Belgians, so those are what we make. We distribute our beers to our immediate Texas Hill Country area, greater Austin and greater San Antonio communities.

   

photo CREDIT; The second shooter

How did people respond when they learned that you planned to give away all the proceeds from your business?
Most are impressed and supportive which makes them all the happier to “save the world one beer at a time.” A few are skeptical and disbelieving, but that changes when they discover that we have been donating since our business opened.

How do you decide which charities to support? Do charities apply for funds?
We have had to narrow the focus of our donations to charities that address basic human needs because we were getting a lot of requests for donations. Humans are made in God’s image, and addressing basic needs like food, water and shelter is essential for survival. When we do get requests, we address them individually and donate as we are able to.

What are some of the charities that you’ve supported and how have your gifts benefited them?
We rotate regularly between Food for the Hungry, Meals on Wheels and Habitat for Humanity. Food for the Hungry utilizes our funds in their greatest needs areas because they address a lot of famine, but in January 2017 we specifically purchased a community water well through Food for the Hungry using funds accumulated through the previous November and December because we actually wanted to provide a “gift.” For Meals on Wheels the funds go directly to providing meals for the elderly, and we have actually volunteered as meal deliverers. With Habitat for Humanity most of our donations have been given to our local chapter, so we have seen four houses built with our funds (along with other donations, of course) and we have also volunteered with our local chapter.

What’s involved in the day-to-day running of the brewery? Do you have paid employees or is everyone a volunteer?
Everyone is a paid employee because labour law specifies that only charitable organizations and public sector industries can have volunteers. At the brewery, we brew and package beer (bottle and keg) weekly. We also have a sales team out in the field with retailers. We make deliveries three days a week. Our tasting room is open two days a week.

Everyone needs an income to cover living expenses. How do you support yourselves since you give away all the money from your business?
Ultimately, we will get a living wage salary from the brewery, and that will be part of operating expenses because our business model is to give away the net proceeds after paying operating expenses. Until then, we are living on savings and the grace of God. We live much more meagerly now than before when we were both physicians.

You strive to implement sustainable practices at the Save the World Brewing Company. What are the ways in which you do that?
The largest and most visible way is our solar panels which provide about 85 percent of our electricity needs. We also collect rainwater in old drums and use that water for irrigation. We recapture greywater and also use that to irrigate. We recycle. We use LED lights all throughout. We have instant hot water, and we have a cold water tank. We use an ozonator instead of chemicals to sanitize our vessels. We have an electric car charger. We reuse materials, like turning our pallets into sampler paddles. We use a medical grade oxygen concentrator for our yeasts instead of getting oxygen delivered in tanks.

What have you learned since you established your brewery?
God is faithful and provides. As his children we need to be obedient, seek him and his will, and have the courage to step out in faith. Being a small business owner is really hard.

How have you experienced God’s presence in your work?
Every day, we experience his presence. Here’s how – this beautiful land on which our brewery sits is a gift from God, and we were the recipients of significant generosity and support throughout the building construction process; meeting and befriending wonderful members of the community who have become frequent and loyal patrons (we started a beer club called True Beerlievers); receiving favour from businesses that have become our retail partners in carrying our beers; we won a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture for the solar panels, and that was an extremely competitive process; Dave and I have learned to work together and appreciate each other’s talents and gifts primarily because of God being our foundation. This can be a very stressful, and it is so easy to get angry and lay blame, but the Spirit in us enables us to forgive, have patience and bear with one another through it all.

About the Author
Saving the world one  beer at a time

Sonya VanderVeen Feddema, Freelance writer

Sonya VanderVeen Feddema is a freelance writer living in St Catharines, Ont.

About the Author
Saving the world one  beer at a time

Quynh Rathkamp

Quynh (pronounced "Quinn") Rathkamp and her husband Dave live in Marble Falls with their loyal brew dog Trixie. They love hiking, traveling, time with family and friends over great food and drinks.

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