Craft Beer Does Good – The Triumvirate of Beer Fans, Beer Makers, and Charities

Craft Beer Does Good – The Triumvirate of Beer Fans, Beer Makers, and Charities

by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap

The craft beer community has a big heart; it’s as simple to state as that. And I’m not just talking about the breweries, but also the people who work around beer and those who love craft beer as well. Example A – Sean Webster of Monon Beverage Brokers started the Indy Independent Relief Fund to support restaurant and alcohol service workers who were laid off during Covid. They made beers, organized events, and then purchased food to hand out and made funds available for people in need.

I could go on endlessly with things the Indiana craft beer industry has done for the good of the community, but this week I came across a current example that combines great charities, a great brewery, and a great beer fan. I think the story deserves a couple minutes of your day to learn about them.

Saturday evening (January 20th), the 8th Nowak Poetry Gala will take place at The Freedom Barn on Brookville Rd. in Indianapolis. This is the major fundraiser for Nowak Poetry, a charity that founder Kevin Nowak says, “Has a mission is to provide words of hope and encouragement to those facing life-threatening situations.” He also explained to me, “Nowak Poetry prints two books of poetry each year, one for cancer survivors in the spring and one of the homeless in the winter.  To date, there have been 1,756,000 copies of our books distributed to others for inspiration.  Along with the books, we provide live talks around the country at cancer events and homeless missions. There have been over 2,400 of these talks.”

As part of this gala, attendees will have a chance to bid on donated items, and will be fed and provided great beverages. Some of the items are donated by a true Indiana craft beer fan named Michael Berry. I met Michael at Frigid Digits several years ago (and coming up on Feb. 17) and Walter and I are very fond of the wooden American flags that he creates. He donates some of these flags each year to the gala, but that’s just the beginning.

Michael also supports other charities with his flags, including Grace on Wings, the country’s only charity air ambulance, who brought Michael’s brother home after a catastrophic traumatic brain injury left him in a coma. To date, his flags have helped to raise more than $35,000 in funds for charities.

However, it doesn’t end there. Kevin told me that Nowak Petry Gala had a beer supplier for their first seven years, but lost them for year eight. Michael learned of this very recently and reached out to a high school friend he knows and who lives close to Jeremy Kuntz, one of the owners of Black Dog Brewing in Mooresville. Jeremy and Black Dog jumped right in to help out with the gala.

Please know that Indiana craft breweries receive many requests for donation of product for good causes, and no one can say yes to everyone, especially in this economy. Jeremy told me, “Times are difficult for a lot of breweries right now and I know many breweries are not supporting events like these as much as they used to.  So, when we can, we try and help out as much as possible.  We have a handful of charities and events we support each year, but we’re always open to helping out if we can.”

To try and help, Jeremy said, “We found out about the event through a mutual friend and a Black Dog regular.  Kevin and I had a chat and he filled me in on their focus and how they do their fundraiser through the gala.  It’s a great thing they are doing, as you said, different and unique compared to many of the other charities, which we liked.  We also liked the fact they are supporting a couple of causes through one event.”

Kevin was effusive in his praise and gratitude for Black Dog, coming through in short order like they did. He said, “Black Dog Brewing came to our aid.  They found out about our situation less than a week before the event and they stepped up to help our little charity.  They were heroes for us, and their last-minute help will help our event to be even more successful. A small Indiana brewery and an underdog Indiana charity can team up to do big things for those battling cancer!”

I really enjoy this synergy of charity, craft beer producer, and craft beer fan/artisan. It’s a coalition that shows the best of the art community, the craft beverage industry, and non-profit, charitable organizations. This gala is the result of a triangle made up of fan/artist, producer, and charity, and it couldn’t come off without significant input from all three.

If you have the means, please check out the information for Nowak Poetry and their gala event, and try to support their mission. The same goes for Grace on Wings. And following that same idea of supporting people who do good, make sure to support your local craft brewery, who, like Black Dog Brewing, are doing everything they can to support the community at large.

BTW, Black Dog Brewing, in partnership with Cedar Creek Martinsville, will be hosting the Pints, Paws, and Playlists Fest to benefit the Morgan County Humane Society on Feb. 3 – more good being done.

banner image credit: crafted American flag by Michael Berry

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