A brand ambassador's cancer diagnosis led to an unlikely concoction that became so successful, it's about to launch nationwide
By Lauren Petty
Last year, 33-year-old Jonny Coffman was told he had less than a year to live.
"Three to 12 months realistically," he said. "They said, 'We would be shocked if you saw 2019.'"
A brand ambassador for Goose Island Beer Company, Coffman was battling metastatic melanoma. At Lurie Cancer Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Coffman tried a new immunotherapy drug and underwent radiation.
"Unfortunately, one of the side effects is its impact on his taste buds," said Dr. Sunandana Chandra, Coffman’s oncologist at Lurie Cancer Center.
"I have never eaten cement, but I can imagine that’s what it would taste like," Coffman said. "Anything, pizza, steak, mac & cheese — it tasted the exact same."
The beer lover couldn’t taste a thing for months, until one morning when he mixed oatmeal with Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, mangos and honey.
"I could taste the cinnamon first, then the juiciness of the mangos and the honey. It was love at first bite,” Coffman said.
Coffman was so excited about his breakfast concoction because he could actually taste it. But he also had a bigger idea, to brew it as Goose island’s first hazy IPA.
"It’s the hot style. We’ve never made one and Jonny loves them, so of course we were going to accommodate," said Todd Ahsmann, president of Goose Island Beer Company.
Coffman worked with the Goose Island Brewmasters and came up with "Lost Palate."
The canned beer is being sold in the Goose Island Tap Room with some of the proceeds going to the Lurie Cancer Center.
"Emotional...emotional because it was something I ever thought if it did happen, maybe brew a two barrel batch of it," Coffman said of the beer being made in his honor.
Since then, two amazing things happened: the immunotherapy drug worked, leaving Coffman cancer-free and "Lost Palate" is set to launch nationwide.
"We decided the beer turned out so good and Jonny’s health is back, so we are going to launch it nationally come the beginning of the year and continue to donate proceeds to the Lurie Cancer center," Ahsmann said.
"People are drinking it in Chicago, liking it, and now when I see people, they can smile and be happy because I’m cancer-free," Coffman said.