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Ben Tolkan Lived the Dream, Honored With a Beer

In the mid-to-late-aughts, before Churchkey, we know, we know, beer-centric bars and restaurants were few and far between. One of them was Georgetown’s Pizzeria Paradiso, and oftentimes you’d see Ben Tolkan behind the bar, cracking jokes and slinging beers. Tolkan went on to be Brooklyn Brewery’s District representative, and then worked the same job at DC Brau. He did this while battling stage 4 Ewing’s sarcoma, a cancer that begins in bones or soft tissue, and spreads to the lungs in stage 4. In October, Tolkan passed away at the age of 37, after a five-and-a-half-year battle with the disease,. He’s being honored with Living the Dream, a 5.2% alcohol by volume pale ale brewed and canned at DC Brau with contributions from Right Proper, Atlas Brew Works, 3 Stars, Bluejacket, Oxbow, and Hellbender.

Per a press release from Brau, “Proceeds from the sale of Living the Dream will be donated to the Sarcoma Foundation of America in Ben’s name. In conjunction with the beer’s release on December 11th, Pizzeria Paradiso is adding a special pizza to their menus at all four locations in honor of Ben called the Quartroni (Pepperoni, Pecorino, Grana Padano, Mozzarella, Minced Garlic, Parsley)…. 100% of proceeds from the beer, plus a portion of the Quartoni pizza sales [will be donated] to the Sarcoma Foundation of America. Additionally, Jerkface Jerky is partnering with DC Brau on a special pairing package that includes Ben’s favorite Maple Jalapeño jerky with every 4-pack of Living the Dream.”

You can pre-order the beer from DC Brau, available in DC, and only DC, on Friday, December 11. If you’d like to learn more about Ben Tolkan, a man who wore a Patrick Ewing shirt around the Sibley Memorial Hospital cancer ward, we encourage you to visit the Living the Dream site at Brau.

Thanks, Ben, and rest in peace. You’re gone too soon, but here’s to the time you spent touching so many lives here in DC.

Artwork via his friend and ours, Nahem Simon. The full press release is below.

DC BEER COMMUNITY COMES TOGETHER TO PAY TRIBUTE TO ONE OF THEIR OWN WITH RELEASE OF ‘LIVING THE DREAM’ PALE ALE
Limited-Release Brew Honoring Ben Tolkan Will Be Available in DC Starting December 11th

Washington, DC — December 2020 — The DC beer community lost our friend Ben Tolkan this past October after an epic five-and-a-half-year battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma. A charismatic mainstay within the community, Ben worked the bar at Pizzeria Paradiso before representing Brooklyn Brewery and DC Brau in the District. To honor his memory and his inspiring contribution to the DC craft beer scene, seven local breweries, along with longtime friends and family members, have come together to create a special American Pale Ale called Living the Dream, which will be available in limited quantities throughout Washington, DC, starting on Friday, December 11th.

“Ben’s unwavering optimism was infectious,” says DC Brau CEO & Co-Founder Brandon Skall. “He always saw the cup half full and the world as a beautiful place full of life and laughter. He always had a smile on his face, and spent each day ‘living the dream.’ We were honored to have him as part of the DC Brau family.”

The idea of the project came together in early November. The breweries collaborated with Ben’s friends and family, along with other community partners, including Pizzeria Paradiso and Jerkface Jerky, on the beer’s development. DC Brau is spearheading the Living the Dream brew along with contributions from Right Proper, Atlas Brew Works, 3 Stars, Bluejacket, Oxbow, and Hellbender.

Living the Dream is a 5.2% ABV American Pale Ale that incorporates a mix of Pale 2 – row malt and multiple Munich malts that when combined with Cascade hops, form this attractive colored light amber offering. Distinct lacing with a tight, rocky head give way to aromas of floral citrus fruits such as orange and grapefruit rounding into a smooth, refreshingly balanced, light-bodied beer. The beer will be available in 4 packs of 16oz cans featuring a Neverending Story-inspired graphic of Ben and his dog Millie drawn by close friend and co-conspirator Nahem Simon.

Proceeds from the sale of Living the Dream will be donated to the Sarcoma Foundation of America in Ben’s name. In conjunction with the beer’s release on December 11th, Pizzeria Paradiso is adding a special pizza to their menus at all four locations in honor of Ben called the Quartroni (Pepperoni, Pecorino, Grana Padano, Mozzarella, Minced Garlic, Parsley). They’ll be donating 100% of proceeds from the beer, plus a portion of the Quartoni pizza sales to the Sarcoma Foundation of America. Additionally, Jerkface Jerky is partnering with DC Brau on a special pairing package that includes Ben’s favorite Maple Jalapeño jerky with every 4-pack of Living the Dream.

Living the Dream will be available through DC Brau’s contactless curbside pick up or delivery (dcbrau.com/order) within the District starting December 11th or via distribution through Premium Distributors in DC only.

“Ben had bright eyes and a smile that made me smile,” says Pizzeria Paradiso’s owner Chef Ruth Gresser. “His arms embraced you with a mix of Midwestern kindness and New York wit that made you want to hold on for a good long while.”

For more about Ben Tolkan and the Beer for Ben project, please visit dcbrau.com/livingthedream.

#BeerforBen

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