On the afternoon of March 26th, a violent gas-fueled explosion erupted in the basement of an East Village building, igniting a fire that tore through the adjacent structures, collapsing three and damaging four more. In the aftermath, the rubble-filled street remained roped off for weeks, crippling many neighboring shops and restaurants during an otherwise busy season. Those businesses continue to feel the effects of this tragedy, almost two months after the firetrucks and emergency rescue crews packed up and left.
Now, any local beer nerd worth his salt knows this area as the Brewmuda Triangle, a block-long cluster of celebrated watering holes integral to the NYC craft beer scene. Legendary 7th Street beer bars Jimmy’s No. 43, Standings and Burp Castle all suffered significant financial damages as a result of the explosion, and several local homebrewers have responded by immediately banding together to help these beloved small businesses get back on their feet. Enter SUDS IN SOLIDARITY, a homebrew festival and fundraiser set for Sunday, May 17th.
“We wanted to put the event together as quickly as possible to capture the public’s attention while those affected were still on people’s minds,” explained event organizer and avid homebrewer Robert Sherill, a member of the charity-focused homebrewing collective, Brewnity. “The NYC Homebrewers Guild (NYCHG) holds their monthly meetings at Burp Castle, and many of us participate in an annual event called Jimmy’s Homebrew Jamboree each winter during NYC Beer Week. In a real sense, that stretch of 7th Street is a welcoming home for the homebrewing community.”
Sunday’s benefit features twenty-two homebrewers pouring at least twenty-one beers, including representatives from Brooklyn shops Bitter & Esters and Brooklyn Homebrew, a range of local homebrew clubs as well as the NYC Homebrewers Guild. Award-winning brewers Chris Cuzme and Mary Izett of Cuzett Libations and the Fuhmentaboudit! podcast will also be sampling some of their freshest brews.
“I’ll be serving a Munich Helles lager called Gemütlichkeit, which recently won 1st place in the Light Lager category at Homebrew Alley IX,” said Sherrill. “Gemütlichkeit’s a German word that has no direct translation in English, but describes a state of warmth and friendliness — that perfectly encapsulates the Brewmuda Triangle to me.”
Unlike in some industries, craft beer’s amateur-professional relationship has never been a source of tension or competition. Most craft brewers began as homebrewers, and many maintain a love for the inquisitive, inventive and distinctly laid back culture that homebrewing tends to create. Likewise, homebrewers, even those with their own commercial ambitions, gain inspiration from their professional counterparts and revel in the sheer number of new and interesting beers currently flooding into the market. It’s a natural fit.
“Beer brings together community, and Brewnity is about giving back to that community,” continued Sherrill. “We’re fortunate that the New York beer scene, both craft and homebrew, has really grown over the last few years. As homebrewers, we’re not only the backbone of craft beer, we’re also its fiercest advocates.”
SUDS IN SOLIDARITY will take place from 1PM to 4PM at the Sixth Street Community Center in the East Village (638 E 6th Street between Aves B & C). All proceeds will be donated to the East Village Building Collapse Fund, a part of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. Tickets are $25 online or $30 at the door.