With a Little Help from My Friends

It was the day before QCBF 2019. An early morning email hit the info@qcbrewfest.com mailbox with subject Volunteer. I was holding my breath hoping the inquirer could work the evening tasting session. It was exactly the message I was wishing for. Nearly four years later, that volunteer, Jeremy Selan, has created a number of original beer events as co-founder of the Charlotte Beer Collective. With charitable organizations as the focal point of his efforts, Jeremy and Charlotte Beer Collective members are natural partners to co-organize this coming year’s QCBF.

In the latest QCBF profile, we get the story behind Charlotte Beer Collective’s beginnings, its endeavors and Jeremy’s version of a Beers for Life beer.

Every craft beer enthusiast has his or her “a-ha” moment when it comes to the beer that opened the door to the world of craft beverages. What was the “a-ha” moment that opened your eyes to craft beer’s ability to do good by strengthening nonprofit organizations in the community?

We started hosting an event each Thanksgiving where we would provide meals for servicemen and women in Charlotte. We began to welcome neighbors and friends over to help us prepare meals and, inevitably, people would bring beers that they wanted to share. Because Charlotte has a large transplant population, many folks began bringing beers from Pittsburgh, Chicago, Boston and other cities that their families are from. Word spread and the bottle share became as anticipated as the pies, turkeys and other items they would prepare for us to give to the police and fire departments. This is when I realized that we could create cool beer experiences that benefit nonprofits and give people the opportunity to support the community with the added bonus of trying some really cool beers.

Tell us about an outcome from a Charlotte Beer Collective event that you’re most proud of.

Our very first event was called Beers for Life where a group of 25 people tasted and learned all about IPAs. At that event, we raffled off some incredible beer prizes to anyone that swabbed their cheek to join the bone marrow and stem cell registry for Project Life Movement. A neighbor of mine was at that event, swabbed his cheek and was later informed that he was a match for someone seeking a bone marrow donation. It was amazing to think that a small gathering led to what could be a lifesaving procedure for someone in need. We’ve seen a number of our members show interest in the nonprofit organizations we partner with, and we make it fun and accessible for them to help.

When it comes to the creation of Charlotte Beer Collective events – like the eco-conscious BEER Event and dog-friendly LoSo Pup Crawl – does the theme come first, the cause or is it a combination of both? Explain.

We typically will take a look around the community and see what organizations are in need of help. We then see if there are breweries that are interested in helping these organizations, develop an event and take it to the nonprofit for their approval.

Most of our events are turnkey for the NPO; we come up with a theme that’s tied to their organization, select the breweries that are supportive of their mission and then find sponsors that are willing to help offset a portion of the cost of producing the event. As long as each event draws people that are passionate about it, we will do the event again, but we also welcome the challenge of building events around organizations that we’ve not yet worked with.

From beers brewed for the benefit of local organizations to the numerous fundraisers hosted in taprooms, what is it about Charlotte breweries that ties them so closely to community causes?

Because Charlotte is such a great beer city with its breweries serving as community hubs, you can find a number of charitable groups in Charlotte taprooms each week. It seems that breweries add a fun and unique element to any community-minded event. As a result, those who are passionate about contributing to a nonprofit organization are exposed to a brewery they may not have visited and brewery patrons come across a nonprofit they otherwise might not know about, so it really is a win-win.

Bonus question: One of the most anticipated elements of the upcoming QCBF is the debut of “Beers for Life” beers. If you are the creator of this 6% ABV offering benefiting Project Life Movement, which ingredient is playing the starring role?

When I think of Beers for Life, I think of pomegranates, and maybe using that ingredient in a kettle sour or fruited berlinerweisse. The pomegranate is the symbol for life, and they are good for your heart, so I think this would be a symbolic fruit that hasn’t been used in many of the beers I’ve tried.