Finding a Cure, One Beer at a Time

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The Ales for ALS program continues to grow, raising over $5 million dollars to date. We’re proud to be part of this important work. The letter that follows was written by Mike & Cheryl Smith, the founders of Ales for ALS:


Each year, Ales for ALS founders (and parents of brewery owners) Mike & Cheryl Hanses Smith write a blog post for us that shares more about our family’s history with ALS and why it’s so important we continue this fight together. The Hanses family, with 30 first cousins in Cheryl’s generation (some pictured here, circa late-1960s) battles a genetic form of this neuromuscular disease. As we head into the 10th anniversary of our Ales for ALS fundraiser, we recently learned that the 10th Hanses family member, spanning three generations, was diagnosed with ALS.

Read on for this year’s heartfelt letter, and we hope you’ll join us and ‘Team Hanses’ this Saturday on the brewery lawn as we raise money to end ALS, one beer at a time.


I am heartbroken all over again. It’s been three years since my brother Scott lost his battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. My cousin, Greg, died of complications from ALS only months before Scott left us. As the years passed, did we try to deceive ourselves into believing that this cruel disease wouldn’t creep back into our lives? It’s more likely that we just didn’t want to think about it, because we have lived with ALS for so long and know that there is still no treatment or cure available.

Sadly, I learned this spring that another of my cousins has been quietly dealing with Lou Gehrig’s disease for about a year now, and he was finally ready to share the news with the rest of us.  This letter is to him.

“There were 30 cousins in our generation of the Hanses family, and growing up together meant the gatherings were big and boisterous. Jarts tournaments and overly competitive Wiffleball games were the norm, but when we traveled across the Cascade Mountains to the westside of the state to visit your family, it meant geoduck hunting and beautiful evenings in the San Juan Islands. Those weekends were the best! I had such a teenage crush on you, did you know that? We usually spent most of those family reunions together, running in a pack with other cousins, but mostly I remember you.  

So this is why I’m heartbroken, because you are the one suffering now. Since hearing of your diagnosis, you have never been far from my thoughts. I hope that one of your brothers or sisters shares this letter with you. And through our initiative, ‘Ales for ALS’, in partnership with ALS Therapy Development Institute, my family promises to continue our efforts to end ALS. One beer at a time. We are Team Hanses, which means we are all in this fight together.”

Please join us at the annual ‘Ales for ALS’ ( fundraiser this weekend at Bale Breaker, where we drink a pint of Bubba’s Brew and commit to helping ALS TDI ( with their important research efforts to find a treatment or cure for this terrible disease. If you are unable to attend, please consider making a donation here: Your generosity is greatly appreciated.

Mike and Cheryl Hanses Smith

Founders of ‘Ales for ALS’

“ALS is not an incurable disease. It is an underfunded one.”

– Dr. Stan Appel, MD

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