On Friday, April 15th, I attended my first MN Brewer’s Ball, a fundraiser put on by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation that was sponsored by iHAIL. The event is a showcase for great food from D’Amico Catering, wonderful local craft beers, and some very passionate and caring people who love supporting a great cause. Held at the Metropolitan Ballroom the event sprawled over every square inch of the great space and was emceed by Chris Reuvers from the AM1500’s The Beer Show.
As I entered, I was met right away with a buzz of conversation and droves of people viewing all sorts of amazing swag from the participating breweries. Glassware, tin signs, guided brewery tour experiences, and craft beer were just some of the things that made up the auction items. As I made my way towards the stage, a buffet was set up that included hot wings, charcuterie, artisan cheeses, crudité, and hot sandwiches. Servers also made their way around the room with platters of pizza, sliders, and cheese curds. I sampled my way around the room and observed many people really enjoying the craft brews that the over breweries had brought along. Most brewers were pouring out of bottles and cans, but several brought along kegs and growlers. The only brewery that I had not tried previous to the event was Lazy O Brewhouse out of Scandia, MN. Lazy O had a beer called Peanut Peanut Gallery, a Peanut Butter Porter on Nitro which won best beer of the night as voted by fans. The cool thing about the voting is that it took place on an app created by Software For Good, which allowed the patrons to vote electronically on their devices. At most beer festivals, there is a piece of paper in a program that you have to tear out and write on, but a lot of times I forget to do it. The app allowed me to just click on a beer that I liked to vote for it and that seemed very user-friendly.
I have talked a lot about the fancy food, drinks, and venue, but the focus of this event is raising money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. This is a charity that is able to make 90% of the monies donated actually go towards the cause. I honestly did not know a lot about Cystic Fibrosis until I knew I was covering the event. I researched the disease and found that it is a very worthy cause when you consider that the CFF receives no financial help from the government. Yes, you read that right, the government gives nothing to help research for a cure because Cystic Fibrosis only affects 30,000 people. I think that the government not helping a cause because it is not profitable is beyond asinine.
In the midst of the festival, vendors stopped pouring and the attention focused on Larry Tate, the keynote speaker for the event. Larry is a tremendously courageous man who is living with Cystic Fibrosis. To say that you could hear a pin drop as he took the dais is an understatement. Larry is an engaging speaker and had the entire crowd in the palm of his hand. His first person account of living with this disease kept the audience raptly engaged as he talked about what an average day is like for him. The take away from his remarks was poignant; by bringing attention and resources to this cause, we are adding tomorrows for everyone who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis. After Larry’s presentation, the crowded applauded raucously and it was time for the live auction. Several ladies known as the “Auction Sisters” came to the stage and started auctioning off several amazing experiences ranging from an evening of cigars and cocktails all the way to a brewery crawl. Having never been to an auction before I was blown away by the energy in the room. As people bid on the items, there was a pandemonious flurry of numbered signs being held up, all the while, the Auction Sisters didn’t miss a beat. When the live auction items were done, it was time to just have an all out donation auction. This part of the evening was incredibly exciting. The Auction Sisters implored people to dig deep and started out asking who could give $5,000 to help support the CFF, people contributed and it went on from there, $2500, $1000, $500, and so on and so forth. I was trying to keep track, but there was such a whirlwind of generosity and passion that I lost track. People had tears in their eyes as I looked around the room and the impact of kindness and hope was truly stunning.
From there, a band took the stage and revelers resumed drinking. All in all, this event had something for everyone and I was glad that I could be part of it all. I would strongly encourage everyone who reads this to look for this event on the social radar next year. I would also implore you to go to their website and see how you can volunteer your time or give them some monetary support. It is a noble cause and I am thankful to Kelsey Steiner, the Logistics Specialist for the Minnesota/Dakotas Chapter of CFF for allowing me the opportunity to cover the event.