If you think about the average craft beer enthusiast, though not always true, you probably conjure an image of a bearded white guy. Hey, I am one.
I’ve been following the local and national protests on the news and struggling with a way that I can show my support and actually do something. Then I found a fellow craft beer enthusiast and bearded white guy, Blake Fitzgerald, deciding to do something.
“I didn’t know what I was watching at first,” Blake recently shared. “I had hoped that the officer would get off him or someone would step in. It brought me to tears when I realized that George Floyd was being slowly murdered.”
As George Floyd lay dead on a Minneapolis street, a police officer’s knee still on his throat, Blake said: “I was instantly frustrated, angry and hurt.”
Millions of people have seen the images and video leaving them feeling helpless, angry, sad and on the brink of tears. How could the police kill a black man … again.
In the days after Floyd’s death, while most people processed the situation and/or protested, Blake Fitzgerald was looking at what he could do within his circle of influence. “I felt helpless with what is going on and wanted to do something positive” Blake said.
In times of crisis, often the best way to make an impact is to look inward and ask yourself what is it I can do to make a difference. Blake took his love of craft beer and turned it into a fundraiser.
Blake is a level 2 Certified Cicerone (professional beer certification) and a beertender at Josh’s Taps and Caps in Snohomish. With a love of craft beer that started before he could drink, and refined on family trips to breweries, it was only natural for him to set up a fundraiser that incorporated beer.
Blake created a #BIF, or “Beer It Forward,” post on Facebook and Instagram. Blake asked people to donate $10 minimum to the NAACP , post a receipt and pick a random number between 1 and 5000, by the drawing date of June 8. This would allow the winner as picked by a random number generator, to win five beers: Fremont B3K, Structures Blend 2, Holy Mountain Bonne Nuit, 3 Fonteinen 2016 and 3 Fonteinen A&G.
To get more traction, Blake cross-posted in hard-core beer trading sites in which he is a member and other local Facebook groups.
Blake didn’t know what to expect once he posted. At this point he really didn’t care and was ready for whatever backlash and results he may get. Personally having witnessed the compassion, caring and genuine kindness of the craft beer community, I’m not surprised at the response Blake received.
In three days Blake’s post has spurred 47 donations totaling over $2,500 to the NAACP and almost all for more than the $10 minimum. The Thurgood Marshall College Fund has $50 as well. With a lot of the large donors not asking to even be part of the drawing. Numerous people thanking Blake in the comments for reminding them to do their part. While Blake is rather reticent of the attention and the pats on the back, he’s just happy to “spread some positivity into the world.”
He’s had numerous people reach out to donate not just money but beers as well, top shelf stuff <see list below>. As of last count he was up to 28 bottles (and growing). TJ Borden, co-owner of The Republic, another Snohomish County bottle shop, was compelled to add two Floodland bottles (Red and Gold and Waxwing) from his personal cellar.
“In the spirit of beer and community I am always up to support what I believe is right and if I can do it by drinking philanthropically or helping someone else drink philanthropically, sign me up!” TJ said.
Let us not kid ourselves, this isn’t the end-all, be-all and one #BIF is not going to change the world or undo years of systemic racism. Admittedly, it is a small act, but a small act that may inspire other small acts. Combined with a million more small acts, is a step in the right direction on a million mile journey. Blake says he’s just a guy in the local beer scene that decided to do something instead of nothing. I see that, but I also see a man who took his anger, sadness and tears and decided to produce something good in the world. Thanks and cheers Blake.
List of Beers Donated – not complete since more are being donated
Fremont Brew 3000
3 Fonteinen 2016 Vintage
3 Fonteinen A&G
Structures Blend 2
Holy Mountain Bonne Nuit
Floodland Neither Site Nor Time (was added at the $1,000 goal mark )
Side Project Lagnst B2
8th State Whale Blood
Anchorage Endless Ending
Weller Special Reserve
Floodland Red / Gold Floodland Waxwing
Cantillon Grand Cru Bruocsella Weldwerks & Bottle Logic Vanilla Destination
Horus Millenialistic Falcon
Chuck’s 10th Anniversary
3 Fonteinen Hommage X2 375ml
Fair Isle Eleanor
2 Burke Gilman Brewing Company Crowlers of your choice.
Fremont The Smoking Jacket
Fremont The Inner Circle
3 Fonteinen Hommage 750
Toppling Goliath Coconut Assassin
3 Fonteinen Hommage 2017
Bobby Wood’s legendary hot sauce!