IMAGE: Brent Williams of Adroit Theory Brewery serves a beer at the 2015 Beerfest. Photo by Bill Brown.
BY CHRIS MILLER
Good beer, good food and good entertainment, all to help raise money for the community – what could be better than that?
The eighth annual Takoma Foundation Beerfest, often referred to as “Takoma Park’s Favorite Night Out,” is Saturday Sept. 24 at the Cady Lee Mansion. This year’s Beerfest will feature beer from 15 local breweries, food from 20 local restaurants and entertainment from local musicians and performers.
Cady Lee Mansion is a fully restored 19th century Washington home on the National Register of Historic Places.
Some breweries and restaurants are first-time participants. New breweries include Right Proper Brewing Company, DC Brau Brewing Company and 7 Locks Brewing. New restaurants include All Set, Takoma Beverage, Mama’s Boiz, El Gavilan and Taco-Ma.
Food table at the 2014 Beerfest. Photo by Eric Bond.
This year’s Beerfest will also include more entertainment than in the past. Usually only one live band performed throughout the night; this time, however, much more entertainment is on the books. Maelstrom Fiddlers, a trio of talented teenage fiddlers, will open the event, followed by the “rockin’ honky tonk blues” of local singer Valentine Slim. Finally, a group of fire dancers will provide the closing entertainment.
For the people that don’t eat the Beerfest staple, the grilled brats, there is now another, healthier option: The Takoma Park-Silver Spring Food (TPSS) Co-op is donating vegetarian brats for the event.
Some of the breweries partner with the local restaurants to create yummy concoctions. Over the last few years, 3 Stars Brewing Co. has partnered with Dolci Gelatti to create beer shakes, or as Mallin calls it, “beer-flavored gelato,” which are always popular.
What truly makes the Beerfest so popular each year, according to Mallin, is its simplicity. At is core, she says, “it’s just people getting together over beer.”
Beerfest 2013 photo by Eric Bond.
With so much excitement, few people want to leave at the 8 p.m. closing time. Mallin recalls last year’s Beerfest. “I actually got up on a chair and said, ‘Ok, you have to go. If you’re here that means your cleaning up.’ And everyone started cleaning up. Nobody wanted to leave.”
The first Beerfest started with only a handful of guys who wanted to simply put on a party to raise money for the Takoma Foundation. Phone calls were made to get a few brewers and restaurants interested and ultimately around 50-100 people showed up. This year, Mallin expects around 500 people to show up for the event.
The event is sponsored by the Takoma Foundation, which according to its website, raises money to help “advance the social, environmental, economic, educational and cultural interests of the greater Takoma Park community.”
This year’s president of the Takoma Foundation, Shruti Bhatnagar, says that at its core, the foundation “brings people together to build stronger communities.” It helps to “facilitate conversations in the community,” Bhatnagar says, “on topics that will help us make a difference and bring different people to the table.”
Patrice Arguez making sorbet beer shakes at the 2015 Beerfest. Photo by Bill Brown.
The main goal of the Takoma Beerfest, according to Patti Mallin, last year’s co-chair and this year’s chair, is “to raise the funds that will then be awarded to community organizations in the form of grants that will help throughout the year.” The goal for this year’s Beerfest is to raise somewhere between $15,000-$20,000.
Bhatnagar remembers a Takoma Park community member telling her how much she loves and looks forward to Beerfest each year. “She told me ‘Thanks for organizing this again this year—it’s starting to be a really nice annual tradition for us to look forward to.’”
Established in the early 2000s, the Takoma Foundation is composed of nine volunteer board members. Twice each year–once in the spring and fall, respectively–the foundation awards grant money to local community organizations and groups.
Beerfest 2014 attendees in front of the gracious Cady Lee Mansion. Photo by Bill Brown.
A few of the 2015 spring grantees included the African Immigrant and Refugee Foundation, which provided an arts summer program for young African and immigrant children; Making a New United People (M.A.N.U.P.), which develops mentoring programs for local youth; and the Minority Scholars Program (MSP) at Montgomery Blair High School, which is a student-driven initiative aiming to increase the number of African-American and Latino students in honors and Advance Placement classes.
One tip Mallin suggests before arriving is to buy tickets in advance either online, or at the following establishments: Fenwick Beer and Wine, La Mano Coffee, Olive Lounge, Republic, S & S Liquors and Tabletop. Buying online is five dollars less than buying tickets. Also online ticket purchasers can use the express entrance.
For more information regarding the Beerfest, participating breweries, restaurants or live entertainment, visit the Beerfest website.
The Takoma Beerfest is from 4-8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24 at Cady Lee Mansion, 7064 Eastern Avenue, NW, Washington, DC.