The viral story from last year is now a real beer brewed in New York State.

By Mike Pomranz
March 26, 2021
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Though created with the best intentions, rules for emotional support animals have been controversial: Some people can genuinely benefit from having one, but skeptics question whether others are simply looking to circumvent pet restrictions. While pondering this debate back in 2019, Floyd Hayes had an offbeat idea: With the humorous hopes of being able to take a pint with him on the bus, the Brooklyn-resident registered his favorite IPA as an "Emotional Support Beer."

The silly story got global coverage, and frankly, that seemed like it would be the end of the joke. But Hayes—who bills himself as a "creative director, ideas crafter, and consultant"—had bigger plans. And now, anyone can buy official 16-ounce cans of his Emotional Support Beer.

Emotional Support Beer
Credit: Courtesy of Woodstock Brewing

Hayes teamed up with the New York's Woodstock Brewing to turn his funny dream into a drinkable reality. No, despite the name, you won't get any special privileges with these cans—it's just a further extension of the ongoing gag. However, the new brew does have a connection to emotional support animals—and a positive one at that. A portion of the proceeds raised from the $20 four-packs will go to Operation at Ease, a nonprofit that pairs dogs from shelters with veterans and first responders to help them deal with post-traumatic stress.

When the story broke last year, Hayes told me that most people "saw it for what it was: a fun idea and a conversation starter around these issues," but as with anything these days, some people didn't see it as a laughing matter. "It was all a bit strange. I made it clear on radio interviews that my stance is that if the support animal in question makes someone feel good and doesn't bother others, then all power to you," he added. "I always have and always will be a supporter of animal shelters and groups, as well as mental health issues, so it was really pleasing to be able to donate to Operation at Ease."

As for the beer itself, it is, of course, an IPA, similar to the beer he registered with the USA Service Dog Registration website. (A registration they later deleted, by the way.) "It's an unfiltered IPA with Citra hops so expect a nice juicy smack of citrus, passion fruit, and mango," Hayes explains. "It's subtle though, which is just how I like it."

Unfortunately, the beer––which was released a few weeks ago—has already sold out at the brewery. However, it was also sent out to Woodstock's New York distributors, so some should still be kicking around in stores in the eastern part of the state. And regardless, this Emotional Support Beer is apparently here to stay. Woodstock's co-owner Rick Shobin said, "It will be repeated yearly and possibly more than once a year."