Find Shangri-La in a glass, drink beer and help Tibetan orphans
Published - 08/17/17 - 10:41 AM | 2750 views | 0 0 comments | 61 61 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Black-Yak is one of the beers from Shangri-La.
Black-Yak is one of the beers from Shangri-La.
Matthew and Maria Gates are helping Himalayan orphans one craft brew at a time.

How is the mother-son business duo accomplishing that?

Via Shangri-La, an all-natural philanthropic craft beer imported from the Himalayan Mountains in Tibet. It's an interesting tale.

“What makes us special is the Himalayan mineral water in our beer,” said Matt Gates. “We're trucking it for hours out of this little mountain village importing it into Long Beach.”

Why is Himalayan mineral water so special?

“It's water filtered trickling down through a glacier from giant mountains more than 15,000 feet that have snow 365 days a year feeding into lakes and reservoirs,” noted Gates. “For the most part, it's not tainted in any way.”

The Gates special Himalayan brew was featured at this year's San Diego County Fair, and will be in local pubs soon, including 710 Beach Club in Pacific Beach and Winston's in Ocean Beach, with more to follow.

The imported Tibetan brew was founded by the mom-son business team as a way to provide economic value and support for Tibetan orphans.

“It is with great pleasure that we are able to launch Shangri-La Beer in our hometown of San Diego,” said Gates, adding, “We are one of the only breweries in the world that is based on philanthropic values.”

Gates said the owner of the Tibetan brewery he and his mom will be importing from is the son of an orphan whose mother had walked through the mountains of Tibet with the Dalai Lama during Tibet's war with China a half-century ago. Soon after, she began adopting orphans and running an orphanage. The family then opened a restaurant, then a micro-brewery, as fundraisers to support the orphanage. Currently, orphanages make up 80 percent of the brewery's employees.

The new craft brew's name derives from the mythical land of Shangri-La, from novelist James Hilton's fictional account of the legendary Tibetan paradise Shambala. The tale is that there is a land behind the Himalayas full of peace and harmony where an isolated people live in accordance with Buddhist precepts, preparing for the day when the world will be ready to live in peace.

Maria Gates traveled to Tibet four or five years ago and became sympathetic to the plight of the orphans, then decided to team with her son to pitch in to help the orphanage's cause, which ultimately involved exporting Himalayan brew to a new, huge U.S. market.

Native San Diegans, the Gates had experience working with wineries. Matt Gates thought, after being exposed to Tibet beer that “maybe a brewery would be a good fit for us,” and yet the prospective venture “was a challenge.”

Nonetheless, the Gates are convinced they'll succeed.

“I would be shocked if we didn't have 50 to 100 more accounts (in the near term),” said Matt Gates pointing out that's important to them as he, and especially his mom, are “philanthropic.”

Shangri-La Beer

What: Imported Tibetan craft beer.

Where: Winston’s, 1921 Bacon St.,

and 710 Beach Club, 710 Garnet Ave.


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