Cheers For A Cause

Select from nearly 40 kinds of beer made around the islands by businesses such as Kaua‘i Island Brewing Co. in ‘Ele‘ele at this weekend’s beer fest. PHOTO COURTESY CHRIS YOUNG

Raise a glass for two good causes at Kaua‘i’s premier beer fest this weekend. Taste some of the finest locally crafted beer in the state, while at the same time supporting local nonprofits Kaua‘i Humane Society and Junior Achievement Program, at the Dog House Beer Fest Saturday from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Sheraton Kaua‘i.

Nearly 20 of the state’s breweries, including Kaua‘i Beer Co. and Kaua‘i Island Brewing Co., are donating their time and resources to participate in the event that ultimately will aid homeless and mistreated animals, as well as keiki learning entrepreneurship and financial savvy.

“You’re going to see what Kaua‘i has to offer,” says Jeff Hanmer, general manager of Plantation Gardens, which will be one of a handful of restaurants providing food at the event.

Attendees will also experience what the entire state has to offer — all in one location. It’s a rare opportunity and the first of its kind on Kaua‘i.

“In the last few years, the beer scene in Hawai‘i, as a whole, has gained a lot of momentum,” says Dave Curry, co-owner of Kaua‘i Island Brewing Co. “O‘ahu, Maui and the Big Island all have beer events and beer festivals. Kaua‘i has two great breweries and a lot of folks who enjoy craft beer, so I think it’s important for Kaua‘i to actively be involved in promoting the craft beer scene.”

Attendees of the Dog House Beer Festival will be supporting two great local causes: Kaua‘i Humane Society and Junior Achievement Program. PHOTO BY COCO ZICKOS

Christopher Young, president of the Rotary Club of Po‘ipū Beach, originated the idea when he decided to hold a charitable event to support Junior Achievement Program. But he didn’t want it to be another silent auction or golf tournament; he wanted to come up with something unique. While brainstorming with Laura Lee, development director for Kaua‘i Humane Society, which also will reap the benefits of the event, she suggested hosting the island’s first-ever beer fest.

The concept was an immediate hit. Planning for the event began last August, and participants, including beer companies, restaurants and various other organizations, jumped right on board without any hesitation.

“People would just come out of the woodwork saying that they’d always wanted to be a part of a beer fest and participate and help,” says Young.

It was especially fitting for entrepreneurial spirits like brewmasters to join the cause, considering it helps support Junior Achievement Program. Jim Guerber, owner of Kaua‘i Beer Co., is an entrepreneurial role model with a long history of brewing. Like many other microbrewers, he started crafting beer at home. Word quickly spread regarding his skills, and friends started requesting kegs for events and social gatherings.

With more people seeking locally made beer, Kaua‘i Island Brewing Co. has been a hit with patrons since opening in 2012.

“And then some of them (brewmasters) make the leap into a real commercial venture,” says Larry Feinstein of Kaua‘i Beer Co.

Which is exactly what Guerber did. After moving to the island in 1998, Guerber brought his equipment with him and continued making brew in his garage. His concoctions became so popular that he outgrew the garage and, more than a decade later, opened the current Rice Street location where hops are created in-house, like Līhu‘e Lager, and crowds swell on a regular basis.

Curry and his business partners, Bret and Janice Larson, have also been gaining more traction with their beer at Kaua‘i Island Brewing Co. since opening in 2012. Now, they regularly have about 10 to 13 on tap that are also brewed on-site in a five barrel, or 155-gallon brewhouse, with seven fermenting tanks and nine serving tanks.

Participants will have their pick of almost 40 selections of craft beer this weekend. Drinks will also be paired with pupu, featuring an assortment of edibles like fresh fish from Merriman’s Fish House.

“It’ll be a lot of fun,” promises Beau Davis, general manager of Merriman’s in Poipu.

Enjoying craft beer has become a popular activity on Kaua‘i. PHOTOS COURTESY KAUA‘I ISLAND BREWING CO.

Supporting these local businesses while having a good time is enough to want to attend. But the fact that it’s all in support of two good causes is more than enough reason to raise a glass.

“Many people have great ideas and ambition, but don’t have the resources to help them reach their full potential. It’s great what Junior Achievement is doing to promote the future of these young people,” says Curry when asked what he appreciates most about the two nonprofits he’s helping by participating in the beer fest. “As far as the humane society, who doesn’t like puppies?”

Tickets cost $90 at the door.

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