Freedom Fighter IPA: Join the Fight

Gate City Brewing Company

By Tara Gary

Recently while I was sitting at one of my favorite local breweries, Gate City Brewing Company, I noticed this cool little tank top displayed behind the bar. It had a large red X across it and read “FREEDOM FIGHTER.” I was intrigued. Then I noticed there was a package deal available to purchase the tank top with a six-pack of Freedom Fighter IPA. How could I not? I love brewery tank tops, and I love beer. But wait, what did “FREEDOM FIGHTER” stand for? I had an idea it was associated with the fight against human trafficking based on things I had seen previously; in fact, the red X is the main logo associated with the fight against human trafficking. Ignorantly, I assumed human trafficking is a problem that exists “somewhere else.” I inquired about the significance of the shirt and beer before purchasing. I was enlightened, shocked, and saddened once informed of the true definition and existence of this terrible act. I also felt appreciation that a brewery would stand behind the fight against such an important issue.

I went home that evening with a sense of obligation to educate myself about this situation and found out some astonishing facts. First of all, what exactly is human trafficking. Human trafficking is a serious crime and violation of human rights. It’s the exploitation of a person into slave labor or sexual exploitation involving fraud, coercion, and force. Human trafficking is considered a hidden crime. Victims are often those who are vulnerable, have no strong family relationships, safety nets, or place they feel comfortable to seek refuge.

You may be surprised to learn the United States is ranked as one of the highest human trafficking areas in the world with an astounding estimation of 1.5 million incidents, according to the Georgia Department of Administrative Services. And boy was I wrong by assuming human trafficking isn’t a local issue. Georgia is one of the top states affected by sex trafficking. Approximately 7,200 men purchase sex from a minor every month in Georgia, according to The Schapiro Group. While Georgia rates among the worst in this area, it rates as one of the best states as far as its efforts to combat the situation.

Source: Polaris National Hotline 2018 Statistics Fact Sheet

January is the official U.S. National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. If you found yourself on one of the domestic Delta One flights during the month of January, chances are you saw the opportunity to purchase the Freedom Fighter IPA that I referred to earlier from Gate City Brewing Company. The sales of the beer helped support the community work of two local organizations, Out of Darkness and Wellspring Living, whose missions are to reach out and provide assistance to victims. I have always known about Delta’s dedication to giving back to the community, and I was ecstatic upon learning Gate City’s Freedom Fighter IPA was being offered on many of their flights.

Freedom Fighter IPA on a Delta flight. Photo: Heidi Frampton.

I was so proud and delighted that one of our local (and one of my favorite) breweries was helping to make a difference towards this serious cause, and I wanted to find out who was behind Freedom Fighter. I visited Gate City, as I often do, and luckily was told the creator of this delicious and conscientious IPA would be stopping by the taproom momentarily. Mind you, I don’t believe (or dream) only husky men create beer, but I certainly didn’t expect to meet a petite and bubbly brunette, Taylor Ganio. Together with Gate City head brewer, Corey Regini, they brewed one of the most important and relevant beers in Atlanta right now. Taylor seemed thrilled in my interest and more than happy to share her passion and vast knowledge on the subject of human trafficking. Though we were both on time constraints due to our schedules, Taylor agreed to answer a few of my questions through email. Here’s what she had to say:

Corey Regini and Taylor Ganio of Gate City Brewing Company. Photo courtesy of Heidi Frampton.

When did you start working for Gate City Brewing Company?

I started working at Gate City on February 25, 2019.

What is your job title?

I am an Account Manager.

What interested you in the job?

I had just recently moved back to Georgia after graduating college from the University of South Florida in Tampa. While living in Tampa I worked at a local brewery down there for almost four years. Upon a visit back home, during my time in college, I visited Gate City Brewing Company and had an amazing time! When I moved back up here, I immediately applied for a job and was hired right away. So, ultimately what interested me was my first initial experience ever visiting Gate City.

Is Freedom Fighter the first beer you have brewed, and how did you come up with the recipe?

Freedom Fighter is the second beer I have helped brew, I mainly have created the recipes and assisted during the brewing process. I have always loved IPAs! It is an incredibly popular style, especially here in Georgia. When I was creating this recipe, I wanted to make sure that it would be an IPA that everyone would enjoy, even the non-beer drinkers or rather the non-IPA drinkers. I feel like we were really able to achieve this goal through the recipe we created. What it really comes down to is knowing what hops work well together, if you can understand that, then you can master a great IPA. Freedom Fighter is one of our favorite new IPAs and features Galaxy and Idaho 7 hops giving it a great tropical aroma with a smooth mouthfeel and finish.

What prompted you to brew the beer?

Craft beer has always been a huge part of my family. Growing up, I was surrounded by craft beer drinkers. My dad and all my uncles were always sharing beer with one another, and while I was not always old enough to drink, my dad made a point to talk about beer to my sister and I. I guess you could say he persuaded us early on to appreciate good craft beer. This ultimately prompted me to grow passion for beer and the brewing process as a whole.

How long have you had an interest in combating human trafficking?

In college I was a criminology major, and I focused a lot of my studies on human trafficking. As time went by, I found myself getting incredibly passionate about helping to advocate and raise awareness on this issue. I had never taken the time to really put any thought into how serious this horrendous crime was, and how often it was occurring. Human trafficking is a serious issue in our country that many turn a blind eye to. Sometimes the things that scare us the most are the things we try to avoid.

Human trafficking is an issue we all need to be aware of—it is real and happening now, all around us. The most important first step in fighting to end human trafficking is getting a conversation started. By talking about it, we are already raising awareness. This was exactly what we were aiming for when we wanted to create an awareness beer. With craft beer growing immensely, what better way to start a conversation than over a great beer! Being able to incorporate two passions of mine together has been such an incredible achievement. Creating a great beer, while also helping in the fight to end human trafficking.

Was there something that lead you to want to spread awareness of human trafficking?

Being able to combine both of my passions together, to help raise more awareness on human trafficking, was something I could not turn down.

How much is Gate City Brewing Company donating to the cause?

At our original awareness event and launch of Freedom Fighter IPA, we were able to partner with the Roswell Rotary Club to raise funds that were donated to Out of Darkness (outofdarkness.org) and Wellspring Living (wellspringliving.org), both are charities fighting against human trafficking. We donated 100% of every dollar raised at the event from Freedom Fighter IPA and also raised awareness by having local charities out to talk about human trafficking.

As this beer and cause have gained traction and grown beyond our wildest dreams, we have had to adjust the giveback portion moving forward for distribution. We have settled on 5% of all sales to distribution being donated directly to local charities in the fight against human trafficking.

How have your co-workers responded to your efforts?

Throughout this whole process, I feel we all have been able to educate ourselves more on this issue. My co-workers have been nothing but supportive, which is one of my favorite things about working at Gate City. We are all one big family, and I am so grateful for every single one of them!

Tell me about anything else interesting that has happened as a result of brewing this beer.

I have met many incredible individuals throughout this entire process and learned a lot more about human trafficking, specifically pertaining to Georgia. Just through my interactions with guests in the taproom, and by our day at the Delta Sky Club, we have all opened up a whole new conversation: Human Trafficking.

One thing we really wanted to achieve from all this was to shed some light on a very dark issue. By just being aware, advocating, volunteering, and reporting suspicious behavior, we all can help in the fight to end human trafficking. If you see something, say something—you could save many lives.

As it turns out, Delta Air Lines shares the same passion as Taylor and her co-workers at Gate City. In 2011, Delta was the first airline to sign The Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct (The Code)—the world’s first and only voluntary set of business principles travel and tour companies can implement to prevent sexual exploitation and trafficking of children. As a way to raise awareness during the National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month of January, Delta released a human trafficking awareness video onboard flights—“25 Million: Help the Unseen”—as well as featured Gate City’s Freedom Fighter IPA.

The Freedom Fighter beer can label features the red X symbol, facts about human trafficking in Georgia, and a hotline number to call for help. Being aware of the problem is key. If you suspect an act of human trafficking, are a victim, or need help, please call the National Human Trafficking Hotline 1-888-373-7888 or text HELP to “BeFree” (233733). For more information, visit End Human Trafficking Now at endhtnow.org.

Many thanks to Delta and Gate City Brewing Company for their contribution to increase awareness of human trafficking.

Join the fight—you can make a difference.

Gate City Brewing Company’s Awareness Ale: Freedom Fighter IPA. Photo courtesy of Heidi Frampton.

Gate City Brewing Company – 43 Magnolia Street, Roswell, GA 30075

When not writing, Roswell resident Tara Gary is busy making industrial furniture, charcuterie boards, and local art. Most nights she can be found with her friends at local breweries and pubs drinking craft beer.