The Kiefer Magic Hazy IPA is more than just a beer, it is Wild Ride Brewing’s way of honoring one of their own.
Kiefer Leutschaft, a wildland firefighter and former employee of the Redmond brewery, died by suicide last October at the age of 26.
Head brewer Michael “Curly” White says he wanted to create a specialty beer as special as Leutschaft was.
“Keeping the magic alive, keeping the spirit of Kiefer alive because he had some magic to him,” White said. “Kind of went well with his name as well as how the name of the beer came out.”
Leutschaft only worked in the taproom of Wild Ride for six months, but in that time, it became a special place to him.
The brewery now holds even more significance to Leutschaft’s mother, Julie.
“So he did not leave a suicide note, what he did, he loved Wild Ride and he always wore Wild Ride stuff,” Leutschaft said. “He left his Wild Ride beanie under my pillow, so that was his note to me.”
$1 from every Kiefer Magic Hazy IPA purchased benefits Rimrock Trails Treatment Services, a local non-profit that provides treatment to those struggling with mental health or substance abuse.
Michelle Duff is part of Rimrock Trails, but was also Keifer’s neighbor.
“Even being so close in this field and I still couldn’t help him,” Duff said. “One of the reasons we can’t help is there is such stigma still around mental health illness. Sometimes we get caught and we don’t talk about it the way that we need to.”
Friends, family, and the Wild Ride team want to those conversations to happen as each and every one of them remembers Leutschaft fondly.
“Just a real easy person to like,” Brian Mitchell, Wild Ride Brewing owner and general manager said. “And to get along with.”
No one realized how much Leutschaft was struggling, the hope now is to help others masking that same pain.
“If we can get out there and save one more child or bring one more child to services,” Leutschaft said. “Then I feel his energy is transcending from that into a positive light and for me as a mother that’s where I have to put my energy.”
If you or someone you know is showing signs of suicidal thoughts of actions, please reach out to the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).