Peekskill Police Brew Beer to Fund Gun Buy-Back Program

It’s not often you can say that you’re drinking beer for a good cause. This summer, River Outpost Brewing Co. is teaming up with the Peekskill Police Department, the Lanza Family Foundation, and local artist and blacksmith Geoff Feder in a fundraiser unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

The goal is Peekskill’s first gun buy-back program in five years. (The last was so successful they actually ran out of purchasing funds, something this year’s organizers are looking to beat.) The road getting there, however, involves every facet of local civics:

This week, members of the Peekskill Police Department stopped by River Outpost inside the Factoria at Charles Point complex to help Head Brewer Justin Sturges begin crafting a one-of-a-kind beer: PeaceSkill IPA. Officers Chatoyer Woodland, Jonathan Saintiche, Matthew LaLindez, and Brandon Kruithof, President of the Peekskill Patrolmen’s Benevolente Association, along with Police Chief Don Halmy and Captain Paul Astrologo helped load some 440 pounds of malted barley and oats into the enormous lauter tun, which will begin the process and eventually yield about 200 gallons of a beer Sturgess described as “a light, round, easy-drinking summer IPA [with a] little bitterness.”

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ROB Head Brewer Justin Sturges

Sales of the brew, as well as various pieces of PeaceSkill merchandise, will fund a no-questions-asked gun buyback in Peekskill on September 15. The best part? The Lanza Family Foundation will be matching all funds raised, doubling the coffers.

“The conversations first came up with the new chief of police and deputy mayor who were literally at an event one day talking … about the gun buyback program that the chief wanted to do,” says John Van Dekker of marketing agency Enormous Creative. “They don’t use Peekskill funds to do it, so, they mentioned this to Louie Lanza and he said, ‘Let me help.’” Lanza, the developer behind the Factoria riverside complex that houses Spins Hudson and River Outpost among other local groups and businesses, coordinated with Sturges and the PPD on the idea, and eventually brought in local artist Geoff Feder.

Photo courtesy Geoff Feder

“After the surrendered guns go through the required, no-questions-asked process with the city, they do have to go through a forensic procedure to find out of they were involved in the commission of a felony. After this, they are all going to go to Geoff,” says Van Dekker. “Geoff is going to make a sculpture out of them and I think that it is going to be really cool.”

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Feder — a local artist, entrepreneur, and blacksmith — has created many of the sculptures featured in Lanza’s restaurants, including The Eagle Saloon, Taco Dive Bar, and Buns-n-Bourbon.

“As a blacksmith, I thought that I was the most qualified to really take this seriously and really change the vocabulary of the subject matter,” says Feder. “What we’re doing is we’re taking something that has one connotation and turning it into something else.”

“I really wanted to make something sculptural and beautiful. Working with guns is the heaviest subject matter you can use; there’s not anything more hot button than making something with a gun.…I felt like if I could really take the gun parts and squish them, change them, and flatten them, we would be able to come up with a symbol.” That symbol, an enormous awareness ribbon, will be displayed outside of River Outpost as a testament to Peekskill’s citizens working together to oppose gun violence.

Sturges, Scott Vaccaro, Cpt. Astrologo, Officer LaLindez, Lanza, Deputy Mayor Kathleen Talbot, Chief Halmy, and Officers Kruithof, Saintiche, and Woodland

The inaugural batch of PeaceSkill will spend the next couple weeks brewing, and will be available for purchase at a special kickoff party hosted by River Outpost on Saturday, June 9. Live music, and plenty of food and drink will be available all day from noon until closing. (PeaceSkill will then be on tap all summer, with Sturges already planning a second brewing.)

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