Tap, Cheer & Give is an all-you-can-sample beer education that also benefits local causes

By Rebecca Kuzins

The crowd at BAM Fest, produced by the organizer of Tap, Cheer & Give, proved girls like craft beer, too.

The crowd at BAM Fest, produced by the organizer of Tap, Cheer & Give, proved girls like craft beer, too.

Both craft beer enthusiasts and novice drinkers who don’t know an IPA from a Belgian white can find good reason to hoist their glasses at Tap, Cheer & Give, a combination beer-tasting party and fundraiser on Saturday at the Cross Campus collaborative workspace in Santa Monica.

The afternoon event, which includes food trucks and live music, offers unlimited sampling of more than 20 craft beers, plus crash courses on the origins of certain beer styles and notes on how to taste those beers and judge their quality.

Tap, Cheer & Give is donating 10% of ticket proceeds to charities such as the SurfRider Foundation and Would-Works, a nonprofit assisting Americans living in poverty. The event also benefits the causes of three local companies that make social welfare part of their business model: Omniscience Apparel, which donates funds from sales of its Be Awear clothing line to environmental organizations; SOLO Eyewear, a sunglass manufacturer that provides glasses and cataract surgery for those in need; and This Bar Saves Lives, whose fruit and nut bars raise funds to feed the hungry.

“It’s a party with a purpose,” says organizer Nicole Gordillo Schimpf, who was also behind October’s BAM (Beer, Art and Music) Fest at the 18th Street Art Center in Santa Monica. “I am celebrating the best of locally produced craft beer, music and cause-supporting brands that are making a positive impact on the community, environment and humanity as a whole.”

The feel-good gathering is riding an unprecedented wave of enthusiasm for craft beer. In a 2013 survey of the U.S. beer industry, Demeter Group Investment Bank reported that while the beer market as a whole decreased by 0.3% between 2007 and 2012, sales of craft beer climbed 10% annually in the same period; by 2020, craft beer is expected to account for 15% of the total beer market.

Craft beers are produced by small, independent breweries, with flavors deriving from both traditional and innovative ingredients.

“This is more of a handcrafted thing, with people making the beers batch by batch in small batches, explains Tomm Carroll, who writes for “Beer Paper LA” and other beer publications and will be presenting a beer course on Saturday.

Craft beers are popular, he adds, because they are generally a higher-quality, better-tasting beverage than the products created by large corporations, which have “perfected the recipe and a flavor profile which is pretty low … and tastes more like water. Wherever you drink a Budweiser or a Miller anywhere around the world, it tastes exactly the same.”

Craft beers, by comparison, pride themselves on their diversity of flavor and local origins. Although Carroll said Los Angeles was “very, very late” in jumping on the craft beer bandwagon, there are now a number of breweries in the area, including some that will be participating in Saturday’s event: Angel City Brewing Co. in downtown Los Angeles, El Segundo Brewing Co., Smog City Brewing Co. and Dude Brewing Co. (both in Torrance), Golden Road Brewing Co. near Glendale, Ladyface Ale Companie in Agoura Hills and the Westside’s own Venice Duck Brewery.

John Binder, one of the owners of Venice Duck, which debuted about six months ago, says the company’s products relate to the community and its liberal politics. The name derives from the ducks in the area’s canals, and its first brand, Dogtown Duck, refers to the environs that gave birth to skateboard culture.

In the next several months, Binder says Venice Duck will introduce two new products with similar Venice origins: Lucky Duck, an agave blonde ale, and Stoner Duck, a brown ale with chocolate and hemp seeds among its ingredients.

Venice Duck is a contract brewery; it creates recipes for new beers that are brewed by a production company in Mountain View. But Binder said the company is looking to open its own brewery somewhere on the Westside.

Venice is also the home of another craft beer creator: Venice Beach Beer Company, which opened in 2012. Later this year, Paso Robles-based Firestone Walker Brewing Company — which will also participate in Saturday’s event — plans to open a restaurant, small-scale brewhouse and beer discovery center presenting hops seminars, blending sessions and other educational experiences on Washington Boulevard near Lincoln Boulevard in Venice.  In addition, Santa Monica Brew Works, which stakes its claim as “Santa Monica’s only local beer,” has announced plans to open a facility later this year on Colorado Avenue near 20th Street.

Carroll, who has judged craft beer competitions, says drinkers should consider five things when determining a beer’s quality: its aroma, appearance, and flavor, how it feels in their mouths and the overall drinking pleasure associated with the beverage.

“The best time to drink beer is when it’s fresh” — which is before it is two months old, Carroll advises.

Tap, Cheer & Give happens from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Cross Campus, 929 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica. Tickets are $40 advance or $45 at the door. Call (310) 621-0992 or visit tapandcheer.com.