A few hundred, socially distanced beer lovers gathered yesterday afternoon outside Left Hand Brewing’s Boston Avenue taproom for Hops and Hope, a live music event with an artisan market. The outing raised money for the nonprofit Homeless Outreach Providing Encouragement, otherwise known as HOPE, and succeeded the brewer’s Hops and Handrails event traditionally held this time of year in Roosevelt Park.
With Covid-19 safety protocols in mind, the afternoon was scaled back from past large events produced by the brewer and its nonprofit arm, The Left Hand Brewing Foundation. Taproom restrictions remained in place even as co-founder and president Eric Wallace, at one point, greeted and seated masked guests at tables in small groups.
Once seated, guests were asked to remain seated. Those who wanted to enjoy music up close or visit artisan booths had to do so without beers, masks in place.
Event organizer and tasting room supervisor Emmy Delis admitted there were challenges inherent with balancing safety and making space for the community to come back together.
“It’s been sometimes difficult mitigating everyone being excited to come out for a music event but also respecting that we’re still being held to some compliance orders,” she said. “We’ve had to share that while we’re not all the way out yet, but we’re so close and bear with us. If we follow the rules now, eventually we will be back to normal again.”
Regardless of restrictions, cars from guests filled the overflow parking lot and those present for the day seemed pleased to be at a live music event. Taprooms and festivals are known for bringing people together over a pint as they are for the alcohol they sell.. For many, having to do without this social aspect was one of the more difficult parts of the pandemic.
“We are very glad to be able to deliver a music event, which is what people have been wanting for a while now,” Delis said.
One dollar for every draft and portions of merchandise and to-go beers were donated to HOPE. According to Delis, the amount wound up coming to about 10% of sales.
Kimberly Braun, HOPE’s director of development, was present for the event and shared that the nonprofit appreciated Lefthand’s support. ”We are really fortunate with the friendship that’s developed between Left Hand and HOPE. In the last year, since the pandemic has hit, we’ve tripled our programming.”
Braun continued, “Normally people have access to libraries and rec centers and businesses to help better their lives. When all that closed, we started a day shelter in addition to our night shelter, to provide for all that was lost. We’ve served tens of thousands of meals there. We’ve also started a safe parking program that’s growing. And we depend entirely on community assistance to fund our programs.”
Additionally, Braun valued how the craft beer community that was so eager to connect with each other, could help those needing connections to support both social and immediate basic needs.
With a look at her glass and then around at the event she said, “Beer means much more than just getting some alcohol. It’s a culture and it draws people together. To bring what we serve into the heart of this, is a chance to build a healthier community overall.”