Picking the Right Events to Connect with Community

Building ties to your brewery’s local community is a great way to build roads to growth as many breweries can attest to.
In a continuing series, Brewer spoke with a variety of breweries across the country and they shared some community events that have been successes.
Benton Wharton, the Events Manager for Pisgah Brewing noted that he and all the people a part of the brewery are members of their community,
“Our slogan is also our mantra — ‘We all drink downstream,'” he said. “Considering the impact you have on the world around you, whether positive or negative, is crucial to being a member of a community, not just an inhabitant.”
Darcy Kniefel, the Beer Ambassador for Midnight Sun said that the Anchorage, Alaska brewery has a staff of about 50. There are a few born and raised Alaskans, but the majority have chosen to move to Anchorage and make it their community, she said. “They will start families, raise children and thrive on what the community shares with them. We feel it is our responsibility to help build this community up and make it a great place for everyone.”
Pisgah’s first fundraiser was a $1 per bottle initiative with local partner non-profit, Wild South.
The Black Mountain, North Carolina brewery’s longtime Barley Wine favorite, known as “Hellbender” (named for endangered salamander species of Western NC), was sold in bombers and has since benefitted the non-profit with every release since 2008.
“Wild South is a forest conservation organization striving to save our most precious natural resources and endangered species from development and industrial impact,” Wharton explained. “As a brewery, we take pride in drawing our water from some of the cleanest and closest to source watersheds in the country. Thus, protecting the surrounding areas of these watersheds is an important initiative for our existence.”
Kniefel said Midnight Sun receives all kinds of requests, from a couple cases of beers to reward creek clean up crews; to donating pint glasses to encourage blood drives.
“We take each one case by case, making sure it benefits locally,” she said. “We have a number of charities that we support each year, from our Annual Beers and Bites for the WaterWays Council to the Go Red in March for the Alaska Chapter of the American Red Cross.”
Kniefel noted that they see more and more requests each year as beer tastings have become a more popular fund raiser, so they do take a good look at each program.
“For now the goal is to balance our donation growth with our overall sales growth,” she said.
The brewery has a donations email address that people can apply to. She is responsible for going through the emails, researching new charities and deciding on donations.
“They come to us, we have not had a problem finding folks to work with,” Kniefel said.
Though Pisgah has benefitted their partner organizations through beer sales — either with product specific releases or through percentages of sales of certain fundraiser evenings — Pisgah also has an event space, the Pisgah Brewing Outdoor Stage (a 2,250 capacity amphitheater), at their disposal to create high-profile campaigns around large concert events.
“Our events team has spearheaded our relationships with local non-profits, which benefit from at least three to four events a year on the Outdoor Stage in addition to roughly 15+-plus non-profit beneficiary events around the area year to year,” Wharton said. “Add in the near monthly beneficiary events we have in our taproom, and you could say that the non-profit partnerships are a big part of Pisgah Brewing’s identity.”
We asked Kniefel and Wharton abot some of the events they hold to bond with their communities.

Midnight Sun:

  • Gold Star Peak Ale: One of our brewers father’s was the driving force in getting the Gold Star Peak officially named. Gold Star is a community of people who offer support for the survivors of military casualties. The peak will be officially named in September, so we took a Saturday and invited the Gold Star group to come in, share their stories, help us brew and enjoy some beer. We have been using social media to push the campaign and we will donate a portion of the proceeds to the Gold Star Foundation. It has been great to get their info out via our social media, because it hits a whole new target audience for them, and they have received great feedback, and new folks to work with.
  • Go Red for March: We work with our local Red Cross chapter each March to raise funds and get the word out on any additional needs they may have. Both the brewery and our local distributor work with retail accounts to advertise the campaign and then both donate back based on cases sold for the month.
  • Brewed with PRIDE: We worked with our local guild and invited all breweries to create a brew for Pride this year. We had seven total come up with a brew that was shared at several venues throughout Pride week. Each brewery donated a keg or two to help individual charities though the week. The best part was seeing the reaction of the LGBTQ community when they had not one but many breweries share the love. The week kicked off with a release of every beer on tap at a local craft beer bar, which got a lot of the community interested in the project and in Pride. There was loads of social media and a lot of great parties.

Pisgah:

  • We make a beer twice a year for the local non-profit, LEAF Community Arts (a youth arts development program), which 10 percent of all sales go towards the NP. The beer is branded towards their bi-annual festival, Lake Eden Arts Festival (LEAF), and sold throughout our distribution area leading up to the event. We also partner with Amplify My Community, a NP organization that is tied to other local NPs as an avenue for fundraising around specifically concert events. We partnered four different years with Amplify, doing shows with the likes of Dr. Dog, Trampled By Turtles, Bruce Hornsby and this year, The Mavericks.
  • Every April we benefit the local Greenway initiative – connecting greenway trails throughout Black Mountain and East Asheville – with the Greenway Challenge, a 5K and 10K running race. This year was the 11th Annual Greenway Challenge, hosted by Pisgah Brewing Co.

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