What goes better together than beer and charity?
You would think the two would go hand-in-hand, but Massachusetts’ law doesn’t seem to agree.
As things stand, it is illegal to serve donated beer at charity events in the Bay State in any way, shape, or form.
The law allows for wine, but nothing else when it comes to adult beverages. That means local brewers and distillers can’t chip in their products for charitable events.
But a bill is headed to the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensures on Beacon Hill on Tuesday, aimed at amending the law so that booze and beer can be donated to events held for raising money for local charities.
“There are a lot of good ways to raise legitimate money for good causes,” Drink Craft Beer co-founder Jeff Wharton said. “We’ve raised $30,000 for the Greater Boston Food Bank in the last few years through hosting events. But do the math. If we have to buy beer wholesale for the event that means we can donate 20 percent less than we’d otherwise be able to. That’s $6,000 in dollars, but more importantly, that’s 18,000 meals.”
Drink Craft Beer is the brainchild of two tech company workers who tried to start a band but ended up dedicating their energy to writing about beer. They started working local events in 2006 and teamed up with Taza Chocolate in Somerville when both operations were fresh on the scene. They raised a few thousand dollars for the Greater Boston Food Bank and the Boys and Girls Club, and realized they had the opportunity to do far more for the community.
“Most people who open a brewery are tied into their community,” Wharton said. “They want to see their businesses in their town create micro-economies. "This winter, our Beer and Chocolate for Charity with Taza raised $12,500 by bringing in local restaurants and paired beer together. In August we have a Beer and Ice Cream event and we expect to raise about $10,000 for The Boys and Girls Club. But it could be $2,000 more if we could accept donated beer.”
Representative Alice Peisch of the 14th Norfolk District is spearheading this bill on Beacon Hill, hoping to expand the reach of charitable dollars in the Commonwealth.
“As far as we're aware, there is no overt opposition to this bill,” said Alli O’Leary, Piesch's spokeswoman said. “Last session, the bill was reported favorably out of committee. Our hope is to get the committee to report the bill out sooner this session, and then push for it to be passed by both the House and Senate."
The Drink Craft Beer crew and Piesch agree that no one stands to lose by supporting this bill.
“We work in the expensive food and beer world,” Wharton said. “There is a certain section of the population who can enjoy this, where there are more who cant even afford enough food at all. We’re in a position where we are lucky enough to help out our community and that’s what we want to do.”