Takoma Foundation holds 2nd annual Nuclear-Free Beerfest in Takoma D.C.
Glasses, funds raised to help vulnerable residents, community beautification projects
Country music floated over the voices of more than 150 attendees at the Takoma Foundation's second annual Nuclear-Free Beerfest at the historic Cady-Lee Mansion in Takoma, D.C. on Saturday, setting a laid-back tempo for residents enjoying a fine afternoon of tasting good beer for a good cause.
Last year's inaugural beerfest, an attempt to revitalize residents' support for the ailing community grants nonprofit, raised almost $5,000 toward the group's spring 2010 grant cycle. That cemented it in the foundation's fall fundraising push even now that donations are back up and grant cycles steadily continue. The beerfest's popularity is hard to argue against, Takoma Foundation President Kathy Porter said.
"The Takoma community responded very generously after the first beer taste last fall and we were able to have a spring grant cycle because of that," she said.
The tasting was good practice for the group, which did not have a major fall fundraising event until last year she said. "We have the Azalea awards in the spring, but we were looking for something in the fall; a beer taste seemed like a good fit."
A glance at the crowd Saturday grouped around one of the nine local brewers' tables or helping themselves to the plentiful dishes stocked by area restaurants confirmed Porter's assessment.
It was hard to say whether the majority of tasters, who paid $35 each, were there to support the nonprofit's grant cycle or simply to partake of the latest batch of locally brewed beer. The foundation's emphasis on providing small grants $500 to $2,000 each for a total of $15,000 to projects aimed at bettering the community and supporting low-income residents certainly helps the brew go down smoother, Porter said.
"Plus, it's still the only nuclear-free beer event in the country," foundation grant committee chair Franca Brilliant said.
While finding a beer event that boasts the use of nuclear radiation in its product would be next to impossible, the Takoma Foundation is likely the only group that would see fit to advertise its independence from nuclear energy, and rightly so in a community whose borders are lined by street signs announcing the city's nuclear-free status.
"Every time I've had a good beer I've found out it was nuclear-free," joked event organizer Peter Feiden. "I figure that's probably what makes them so good."
The event was noticeably larger than last year, according to foundation officials, who pointed out that last year's icy rains and chill winds likely dampened attendance; the addition of six new local brewers this year, along with a smorgasbord of new food options, probably didn't hurt.
Rockville-based Baying Hound Aleworks used the event to debut its first batch, said owner and head brewer Paul Rinehart.
"It's great to be a local brewery at a local event rather than, say, going to Baltimore," Rinehart said as he handed out samples of his new pale ale. "There was another beer event going on there this weekend, but I would be hidden there, whereas here I'm among friends."
Rinehart was so busy he contemplated driving back to the brewery to restock the four cases he brought to the event for sampling; they were quickly depleted by eager attendees, sip by sip.
Among the tasters this year was Takoma Park Mayor Bruce Williams, who walked from table to table in search of a new favorite label. Williams praised the event's uniqueness, especially in a city that just petitioned the state legislature to allow beer and wine stores to open within its historically dry borders.
"This is a different type of fundraiser for Takoma Park and I like it because I'm seeing a lot of familiar faces, but I'm seeing a lot of new faces, too," Williams said. "It should be seen as a sign of the times ... there's obviously people in Takoma Park who would find it advantageous to have beer and wine stores open near their communities."