ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — On January 20, a military helicopter crashed in Mendon.
According to the New York Army National Guard, the UH-60 medical evacuation helicopter was on a routine training mission when it crashed in a farmer’s field along West Bloomfield Road.
The three men who died in the crash were 54-year-old Steven Skoda of Rochester, 39-year-old Christian Koch of Honeoye Falls, and 30-year-old Daniel Prial of Rochester.
Now, a local brewery is doing their part to remember, honor, and give back. Heroes Brewing Co., who’s motto is “shining on a light on everyday heroes,” will shine a light on these exemplary heroes.
“I was just touched when this helicopter crash happened, and as a former first responder, I wanted to do something to be involved,” said Heroes owner Greg Fagen.
So he put in a call to Teressa DaGama, Christian Koch’s widow.
“I reached out to her through some media contacts and introduced myself, told her what we’re all about, and I wanted to show my respect to her husband,” Fagen said. “She’s been engaged in the process, with the can design all along, so it’s been a great collaboration.”
“I was so overwhelmed with how generous he was. Christian would have gotten the biggest kick out this,” DaGama said. “He would have thought this was the coolest thing. Especially with part of the proceeds going to charity. I had to do it, it’s no question.”
But they knew they couldn’t do it alone.
“Given our scale I didn’t think we could do it justice,” he said.
Each received a passionate call from Fagen at Heroes, and since all of these breweries pride themselves on being “community focused,” it was an instant “yes.”
But that wasn’t the only kind gesture Heroes had for DaGama.
They named one of their tanks for Koch. Fagen said that it’s to common that in moments like these, people “reflect and move on.” He wanted something permanent, a thought DaGama loves.
“We kind of consider him our Captain America,” DaGama said of her late husband. “I’m so glad that he will be remembered here always, and I love that I can come back and maybe take a peek, and look at it, and it’s just another amazing part of this. In a bad situation it’s a little bit of light.”
You can find each four packs on the respective brewery’s website. Preorders started May 14th.
Currently, the beer has sold out on pre order at Heroes Brewing Co., but Fagen says they will be available at the other breweries for a big launch on May 28th, right ahead of Memorial Day.
Heroes Brewing Company: “CW4 Koch,” a Pineapple Mango for Koch, with proceeds going to Golisano Children’s Hospital
This beer was designed to be highly drinkable, with some cloudiness and fruit. DaGama says Koch would have loved it, and says it’s the life of the party, like him.
Brindle Haus: “CW5 Skoda Munich Helles Lager,” with funds collected supporting Rochester area National Guard families through his family
Brindle Haus is a brewery in Spencerport that prides itself on being dog-friendly. But beyond that, they do as much as they can to support charities and dog shelters in Spencerport.
“We get involved with as many as we can,” said Peter Waughtel, with Brindle Haus. “It’s really makes us happy to be doing this… The charity was definitely well worth our efforts and our time, and we’re really proud of (this) project.”
Waughtel says that while collaborations in the 585 beer community are common, though usually they stop at brewing the beer together and sharing a label.
Their beer is designed to be loved by the traditionalists, and also be a great summer beer.
“Crushable, crisp,” Waughtel said of the Helles lager. “(This is for) all the people out there that like traditional German European styles, this fits right into that.”
Rising Storm Brewing Company: “CW2 Prial Pale Ale,” with proceeds going to the Challenger Miracle Field
Rising Storm is a bit of drive from Rochester, but its part of the local beer community nonetheless.
“Technically our mailing address is Avon, but we’re in the town of Livonia, so it’s a little tricky,” said Bill Blake of Rising Storm.
Their emphasis, besides making great beers, is making sure everyone is welcome, but since opening in 2018, they have also focused on giving back.
“We do a lot of events where we’re giving donations to the local community,” Blake said. “We’ve brewed a whole bunch of bears, especially the last year and a half, with the focus on giving portions back to charity, and really helping support those around us that do such a great job to support us.”
This made the fit to work with Heroes a no-brainer, and the Challenger Miracle Field as the charity a slam-dunk.
Like many of the other beers, it’s great for summer and drinkability.
“We brewed is a juicy pale ale,” Blake said. “It’s hopped with citrus Simcoe and Azacca hops. It’ll be a relatively easy drinking, 5.5% pale ale, not super bitter, super juicy, uh, people that like IPAs and people that don’t, and people like pale ales… We think they all should find this beer pretty good.”
Triphammer Bierwerks: “Tags of Honor IPA,” with proceeds going to the Veteran’s Outreach Center in Rochester
Triphammer — named for the famous water-powered massive hammers along the Genesee River — is nestled in Fairport on Parce Ave, right by Iron Smoke Distillery.
They pride themselves on consistency; after all their motto is “every beer counts.”
“When you bought (a beer) three years ago, it tastes the same as when you get it now,” said Scott Denhart of Triphammer. “When I come out with a new beer, we’re going to nail the process as much as possible.”
For their beer, Denhart wanted to blend his steadfastness with imagery of the military and servicemembers.
“I think old school when I think military, so I took some old school hops, like Apollo, Bravo, Amarillo, and Comet,” Denhart said. “I tried to brew them in a new way, like the New England style with a little bit of bitterness.”
They are also launching a special commemorative glass, with a patch designed just for Skoda, Koch, and Prial: