By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Feb 25, 2021 at 3:32 PM

One of the few upsides to the pandemic has been the ongoing series of national (and international) beer collaborations like All Together IPA and Black is Beautiful stout.

A new collaboration is the brainchild of Nicole Henzel, who works at Malteurop in Milwaukee, which supplies malted barley to brewers, distillers and other sectors.

Things We Don’t Say IPA is being brewed now for release in May to coincide with Mental Health Month.

As with those previous collaborations, a recipe and label art is openly shared with brewers around the country (and beyond), who are encouraged to make their own batches and help spread awareness of mental health issues.

After connecting with Hope For The Day, a Chicago-based non-profit movement empowering the conversation on proactive suicide prevention and mental health education, Henzel invited Eagle Park to supply the recipe, and Malteurop and Yakima, Washington’s Hollingbery & Son, Inc. Hop Company hopped on board, too.

“I met and instantly connected with Joel Frieders at Hope For The Day back in November and immediately wanted to team up to find a way to get involved in what HFTD is doing,” says Henzel.

“After we both got overly excited and came up with a ton of ideas, we knew one thing, we wanted to find a way to empower breweries around the world to use their platforms to support mental health, to share with the world that it’s OK not to be OK. We came up with the concept to create a collab beer that can be used as that conversation starter and resources for those who need it.”

Now, more than three dozen breweries – some from as distant as Brazil – have signed on to brew the beer and help raise awareness.

"I approached my team at Malteurop Malting Company about supporting the project and am beyond proud that they not only wanted to be a partner in this but that they are offering grain discounts to allow participating breweries to further support the cause," says Henzel.

Among the Wisconsin breweriess taking part are Milwaukee’s Component, Eagle Park and New Barons, as well as outstate brewers like The Brewery Projekt in Eau Claire; 608 in La Crosse; Workin Draft, Young Blood and Vintage in Madison; Nosey Neighbor in Kenosha; and Bobtown in Roberts.

“I don’t think either of us could have dreamed what it is becoming,” says Henzel.

Matt Smith’s Wandering Soul Beer in Beverly, Massachusetts brewed a Things We Don’t Say New England Double IPA in 2019 after Smith suffered the trauma of the stillbirth of his daughter.

But the recipe written by Eagle Park for this project isn’t the same.

“Their beer is entirely different but shares the name and similar message,” says Eagle Park’s Jake Schinker. “Wandering Soul has brewed a beer with this name for a few years now and it was by chance that our paths crossed.

“After discovering one another, rather than them asking us to change the name of our project, they asked to be a part of it. A pretty cool gesture, if you ask me.”

The phrase "Things We Don’t Say" is also the name of Hope For The Day’s mental health education curriculum.

The IPA recipe – for a 6 percent ABV hazy IPA with Cashmere, Azacca and El Dorado hops – says Eagle Park on its recipe sheet, “is the start of a conversation. We welcome you to follow the original recipe only as closely as you'd like and encourage you to use it as a starting point to tell your own story.

“The message this beer carries is as important as the beer itself. We want you to do what you do best, the way you do it.”

Breweries who take part in the project get the use of the recipe; a customizable label template; discounts on ingredients from Malteurop and Hollingbery & Son; a resource package with It’s OK Not to Be OK wristbands and mental health resource cards for brewery staff and community; the opportunity to schedule free virtual Things We Don’t Say mental health education for the participating brewery and its community; and co-branded promotional materials and social media assets.

Organizers only ask breweries to allocate a portion of the proceeds from the beer for Hope For The Day’s proactive suicide prevention and mental health education program.

Because it can be a difficult time for small brewers, the organizers have not set any minimum percentage or amount to donate.

You can donate, too, via this link.

While the beer will surely be good, Schinker says that the goal is much bigger than that.

“This project is one thing,” says Schinker. “But (it’s about) eliminating the taboo of talking about mental health by encouraging those conversations to happen, saying ‘it's OK not to be OK’ and getting through tough times together.”

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.