Indiana’s Monks? Beer Allows The Brewers of Indiana Guild To Give Back To Charities

In a similar, though different way, the Brewers of Indiana Guild is much like the reclusive Trappist monks who brew beer to fund their charitable activities and causes. The Guild itself doesn’t actually brew beer, its members do, and there is no religious affiliation, but beer helps fund Guild programs and other Indiana nonprofit organizations.

The Guild’s board of directors, which is comprised of small-brewery owners and those who help run breweries across the state, choose charity partners for their events.

On Saturday, February 4th, 2017, the Guild presents its 9th Annual “Winterfest” beer festival with over 100 Indiana breweries in attendance, but you knew that. What you might not have known is that the Guild (a nonprofit, 501(c)(6) organization) donated nearly $21,000 last year from Winterfest alone to Joy’s House Adult Day Service

Sometimes those numbers pass by you without a thought so take a sip of Indiana beer, and let it sink in for a moment. That was twenty-one thousand dollars and $40,000 over the last two years! And they are partnering again this year.

In addition to Winterfest, the Guild also hosts The Bloomington Craft Beer Festival and the Indiana Microbrewers Festival, and last year they donated $8000 (The Lotus Education and Arts Festival) and $13,000 (Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Indiana) to Indiana charities respectively. The 1st Annual Broad Ripple Beer Festival is coming this fall with another Hoosier charity on board.

Photo courtesy of Brewers of Indiana Guild.

“Community is an integral component of what our nonprofit organization and its members stand for,” says Tristan Schmid, Communications Director for the Brewers of Indiana Guild. “Historically, pubs have provided a local space for citizens to gather and share and discuss the news of the day over a pint, and today, most or perhaps even all of the breweries in Indiana integrate a charitable component into their businesses by donating a percentage of sales to causes they care about; providing beer, gift cards, and merchandise to charitable events, and offering their breweries as locations for nonprofits’ special events.”

One of those nonprofit organizations is the aforementioned Joy’s House, an adult day service with two Indianapolis locations, one in the Village of Broad Ripple and another at the University of Indianapolis. Never heard of them? Me neither. So I gave them a visit.

Photo by Rick Burkhardt

Awarded the 2015 Most Outstanding Day Service in the Nation by the National Association of Adult Day Services, Joy’s House relies on donations like those from the the Guild to execute its mission in providing day-time shelter for adults in need.

While sitting in an open day room, I chatted with Joy’s House Development Director, Genevieve Gaines, and Laura Weiger, Community Engagement Manager, while several of the guests (clients) popped in from time to time.

Photo by Rick Burkhardt

The money donated by the Guild at Winterfest goes into Joy’s House Guest Scholarship Program that assists families in covering the $75 daily fee. Laura said, “It really helps open the door to the community because the reality is, we’re all going to, probably, be caregivers at some point.” And because some families pay as little as five dollars a day, she said, “It allows people to access our services who wouldn’t otherwise be able to.”

Photo by Rick Burkhardt

Like the Guild, Joy’s House is a nonprofit organization and the scholarship fund has only a $100,000 yearly budget, so the Winterfest donation is a large chunk of that. Genevieve stated simply, “We couldn’t do what we do without Winterfest. We’ve just been blown away by how much the Guild has been able to support us.”

Photo by Rick Burkhardt

The spic and span conditions at Joy’s House might otherwise suggest a sterile environment but that definitely is not the case. The open floor plan of the home is warmly accented with natural light, soft colors and comfy furniture.  Guests are physically and mentally engaged throughout the day with a number of activities and events, and a huge backyard is a quiet respite for those with gardening skills. Safety, Genevieve says, is a priority.

For Tristan Schmid, a point to make to all Indiana beer lovers is that Guild festivals are crucial to their existence as well. “Without funding from them, we wouldn’t be able to lobby on behalf of brewers for consumer-friendly laws, such as the ability of small breweries to fill growlers on Sunday. We wouldn’t be able to provide resources such as the Drink Indiana Beer app and DrinkIN magazine, and we wouldn’t be able to provide continuing education and networking opportunities like the annual Indiana Craft Brewers Conference.”

Additionally, the Brewers of Indiana Guild rolled out a membership program last year called the IN Beer Brigade. Members receive cool swag in the form of a t-shirt, glass, sticker and an indestructible bottle opener, as well as entry to the release party of a yearly-evolving, specialty brewed beer.

Brew day of Corn King IPA at Three Floyds Brewing. Photo by Rick Burkhardt

You may remember last year’s beer, Corn King IPA brewed at Three Floyds, bottles of which could be reserved by members. This collaboration beer made by the northwest Indiana breweries is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation.

Need evidence that the Guild utilizes their funds productively and efficiently? Dave Toth, co-founder of Byway Brewing in Hammond, In., the 2016 Indiana Brewery of the Year, told me this about the Guild. “If there’s another guild in this country that’s better than them, I’d like to know. They’ve got a skeleton crew so they are working their asses off, but the people we’ve dealt with over the past 18 months, they have bent over backwards for us. Which means they’re doing it for everyone else as well. They think of everything and just how they can help us. We feel like we are their only customer; I can’t say enough about those people.”

Maybe you didn’t know who the Guild was before and, maybe you still don’t, but that’s ok. Because like those anonymous monks, the Guild quietly goes about its business behind closed doors in furthering Indiana beer and its mission. And that’s good for all of Indiana.

So in the future, when considering what events to attend and which ones to forego, maybe a significant element to consider is where the money is going. If the money is going to help support and advocate on behalf of those breweries that we also love and support, and it helps other Indiana organizations that do good work for us all – like my new friends at Joy’s House – then you might have answered your own question. I can tell you one thing, I love knowing where my money is going.

Cheers!

Rick

Joy’s House also volunteers to run the coat check area at Winterfest so please stop by, say hi and throw in a couple of bucks. As for myself, I’m volunteering for the Guild in Tent A so come over, I’ll buy you a beer.