While there’s a lot of things we’ve been missing since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the biggest is the simple pleasure of enjoying a beer in a packed taproom on a hot summer day.
While gathering over a cold pint may be impossible this year, the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI) is partnering with several of the breweries involved in this year’s Ales for ALS™ program to allow people to recreate the experience in their own living rooms, patios, or backyards. On August 22, beer makers across the country will come together to put on a Virtual Brewfest for ALS ¬ that will feature Ales for ALS™ beers, interviews with brewers, and opportunities to connect with other beer lovers.
Andrea Sheehey, who works at Massachusetts’ Mighty Squirrel Brewing Company, volunteers with Ales for ALS™, and is a driving force behind the Brewfest for ALS, says it was a challenge to figure out how to virtually capture the spirit of a beer festival – but she’s come up with some creative ideas.
“[I asked] how can you make it this different than other Zoom events,” she says. “How can you make this a little more interactive? So, we’re going to have interviews with the different brewers, and then in-between segments like trivia or video footage from the breweries. We’re making it so you're not just watching, you're interacting with us.”
Beyond the interactive elements, there’s also the biggest element of any beer festival – the beer itself. Rather than filling their glasses at a tap, participants will be able to purchase a selection of exclusive beers ahead of time. The Brewfest for ALS will be divided into four regional festivals for the Northeast, Southeast, West, and Pacific Northwest. Participating brewers include Mighty Squirrel, Harpoon, Sierra Nevada, Bear Republic, and many more.
For those partaking in the virtual Brewfest, four and 24-packs of beer from participating brewers will be available for purchase, to be picked up from a designated brewery in each location, or sent by mail depending on local regulations. These packs will include a mix of beers from brewers in each region who are participating in Ales for ALS™ – a program where breweries create an original beer from a specially provided and unique blend of hops, a portion of the proceeds from which go to support the critical ALS research at ALS TDI. Along with the option to purchase beer, attendees will receive a ticket to attend the Zoom event on August 22nd and an Ales for ALS™ t-shirt.
Of course, the festival will be about much more than just beer – it’s also about raising money and awareness for ALS research. Andrea, like many of the brewers and brewery workers who are involved in the program, has a deeply personal connection to ALS.
“My father died [of ALS] when I was 10 years old,” she says. “He was forty-one years old, and he had basically kind of nurtured my beer. Then, three months later, my grandmother died of ALS. Years later, I decided to further dive into our history and discovered that nine members of my family have from ALS. It goes back to my great grandfather.”
It was this connection that inspired Andrea to help get Mighty Squirrel involved in Ales for ALS™. Last year, she paid tribute to her dad with the company’s brew for the program, Ales for DAD, a beer whose name had a double meaning – her father’s name was Duane Alan Devitt. This year’s beer, ALS Warrior, pays tribute to the people who battle the disease every day. It will be available, along with a selection of other delicious beers for a great cause, in the package of beers for the Northeast Brewfest.
For more information about your local Brewfest for ALS and to order tickets and beer, click here.