Plymouth man and homebrewer creates platform for craft beer enthusiasts to pay it forward

Good Company Brewing provides an online giving platform for craft beer enthusiasts 

By Kristen Miller
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Josh Janos, founder of the nonprofit Good Company Brewing, explains the all-grain brewing process. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Kristen Miller)

Homebrewer and Plymouth resident Josh Janos is using his passion of brewing beer as a means to pay it forward through Good Company Brewing, an online charitable giving platform for homebrewers and craft beer drinkers, to give to charities of their choice.

Janos fell in love with craft beer 10 years while in college, and began brewing his own beer five years ago, combining his love for both craft beer and cooking.

“For me, I’ve always liked the art side of cooking, because it’s all about the taste,” Janos said. He also likes the scientific process that takes place in brewing, explaining it’s all about managing a living organism – yeast, which breaks down sugar to create alcohol. “I’m just fascinated by that,” he said, noting that there is even a science in the type of water used in the brewing process.

To put his homebrews to the test, Janos has stepped into the world of homebrew competitions, having participated two years in the Minnesota State Fair, where last year he received a third-place ribbon for his bourbon barrel aged barley wine. In the National Homebrew Competition, he won third place, out of 36, for his American Porter at the regional competition this spring in Milwaukee.

Like many brewers, Janos had dreams of opening his own brewery. However, being a father of two young children, he decided this was not the right time in his life. However, he wanted to do something more with his brewing.

Last fall, Janos was asked by a friend to donate some of his beer for a fundraising event, and that’s when a light bulb turned on, he said, which got him thinking, “How can we harness the passion of homebrewers and raise money for charities?”

As a homebrewer, Janos is not licensed and therefore can’t sell his beer, but he can donate it and share it with others.

“Minnesota is actually one of the better states that allows a little more freedom for homebrewers,” he said, noting a lot of states won’t even allow homebrewers to take their beer off their premise.

“I give my beer away a lot – to my friends, my family – that’s one of my passions … giving away my beer to let other people try it,” Janos said.

That’s where the online giving platform comes into play. Although he can’t sell his beer, he can share his passion, all while encouraging others to donate to a good cause.

A case of Good Company Brewing beer. (Submitted photo)

Good Company Brewing is a registered nonprofit with an overall mission “to share our passion for brewing and enrich lives by fostering moments of connection and goodwill among families and communities.”

The online platform then allows him, as well as other brewers, to share their beer and promote charitable giving.

For example, each Good Company Brewing bottle has a tag or label that provides an online link. If the receiver enjoys the beer, they are asked to consider paying it forward by donating “a few bucks” to a nonprofit through the online platform.

Any homebrewer, homebrew club, and craft brewery is encouraged to do the same. All they do is add their beer and select charities from a national database of nonprofits, Janos explained.

They can either share a single beer, or host events such as an upcoming barbecue Janos has planned with his friends and family. There is also an online auction platform for home brew clubs.

The name Good Company Brewing comes from the “feeling you get when you’re with people,” Janos said. Whether it’s sitting around a campfire our at a barbecue, “it’s all about being around good people and good company,” he said.

Janos hopes other brewers join in and host their own events, noting “ it’s a good excuse to get together, drink beer, have a good time, and raise funds for charities.”

Josh Janos shows his hop vines, which will be ready to harvest in September. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Kristen Miller)

Donors can choose from three charities currently selected for the Good Company Brewing Pay it Forward campaign.

They are:
• Think Small, a St. Paul-based organization whose mission is to advance quality care and education of children in their crucial early years,

• The Food Group, based in New Hope with the mission to relieve hunger through the distribution and promotion of healthy foods to food shelves and meal programs, and

• Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery, which aims to end child abuse and neglect and create strong, healthy families.

About $200 has been raised thus far, with a year-end goal of $2,000.

“I think I’ll top that with the barbecue,” he said, noting 60 people have already signed up for his next private event.

“If there are any other homebrewers that are passionate about their craft and want to help raise funds for charities, I would love to hear from them and have them join the cause,” Janos said.

His wife, Megan, can attest to her husband’s giving nature. “He’s got a big heart, he likes to use that heart to help other people,” she said. “I love that about him – he’s always wanting to do things for other people.”

“People love brewing. People love beer. People love to come together around food and drink, and if you can take that and apply it towards a greater good, that’s awesome,” he said modestly. “It’s a great excuse to get together with some friends, drink some beer and do some barbecue.”

For more information on joining the cause, visit goodcompanybrewing.com.

More about brewing
Janos learned how to brew from John Palmer’s “How to Brew,” a book given by his father-in-law and the former owner of a small brewery in southern Minnesota.

With that knowledge, Janos brewed his first batch five years ago with a homebrewing kit, and has since brewed 50 batches (five gallons per batch) and 15 different styles.

Hops from last year’s harvest. (Submitted photo)

He said the craziest beer he ever brewed was a maple bacon bourbon porter.

The American Porter has been his favorite, and one he’s worked on the most to perfect, he said.

Four years ago, Jonas started growing his own hops in his backyard. While hops aren’t difficult to grow – they are almost like a weed – it takes two to three years for the plant to establish and produce enough hops for a batch of beer, he explained.

For first-time growers, Janos recommends a larger space to allow the vines to grow, well-drained soil and lots of sunlight.

Look to homebrew supply shops for hop rhizomes (hop roots) in the springtime, he noted.

To read more about his brewing experiences, visit his blog at goodcompanybrewing.com/blog.