By on June 14, 2017

Proceeds from the Pirate’s Pale Ale release party went to a new building fund for Mastersonville Fire Company. (Photos by/provided by Michael Upton)

Four years ago it was the fest. Two years ago it was collaboration brews. Last year was everything sour and barrel aged. Now one of the biggest trends among brewers is philanthropy — and there is nothing wrong with that!

There are benefit beers all around the country. The first example I found was an awesome pilsner brewed by Abita Brewing Co. in Louisiana called S.O.S., which stands for “save our shores.” The charitable beer was a response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon tragedy and continues to focus on efforts to revitalize the southern coastline of the state. (Two million people live on Louisiana’s coast, which shrinks at the rate of one football field of land every hour making up 80 percent of the entire United States’ coastal land loss.)

St. Boniface has their own water-saving beer going with Well Wisher IPA, but on Saturday at Bonifest — the annual celebration of all things St. Boniface — it was all about stocking the shelves of the local food pantry. Attendees are encouraged to bring donations for Ephrata Area Social Services’ food bank and in return get a raffle chance at winning brewery schwag. The count was in on Monday and the event harvested 525 pounds of food!

This year’s specialty beer station at Bonifest featured Mango Habanero Mosaic IPA, Toasted Oak and Vanilla Narrowback Irish Red, and a Pineapple Kiwi Hefeweizen. Lines were long at times. The folks at St. Boniface estimate approximately 850 people showed up throughout the day. The event also continues to grow as a premiere spot to find great music.

“I don’t think I ever saw people standing and waiting [for a band],” said co-owner Mike Price before Indie band Good Old War took the stage at 3 p.m.

A bit north of Ephrata, another civic-minded beer event was taking place on Saturday. The grounds of the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire served as a backdrop for Swashbuckler Brewing Company’s Pirate’s Pale Ale Release Party. The event was organized to help raise funds for the Mastersonville Fire Company, who hope to build a new firehouse. The #27 squad serves 50-square miles in Rapho Township near Manheim and consists of 35 active volunteers.

Many members were on hand Saturday as the slightly hoppy ale paired perfectly with the warm weather and gatherers enjoyed the solo sounds of Steven Courtney, door prizes, and free food courtesy of the fairgrounds. This was the first year of the free, family-friendly event — complete with a bouncy castle and age appropriate prizes for the kiddos — and members hope to hold a similar soiree next year. Stay tuned.

Next up on the proverbial social calendar is an event to unveil a rebrand for Horizon, a Lancaster-based non-profit, and introduce the community to its work with orphaned children around the world.

Starting at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 15, at Tellus360 in Lancaster, beer fans will be able to grab a pint of Empowered IPA (to be later rebranded regionally as Best of Both Worlds IPA) with 50 percent of the proceeds of the brew going to Horizon. The coffee IPA made with Kenyan coffee beans is a collab between St. Boniface and Square One Coffee in Lancaster. Horizon’s work at the moment has been concentrated in Kenya.

The fun fundraiser will feature DJ Salinger spinning global music, a live performance from local singer-songwriter Mike McMonagle (if you didn’t get your fill at Bonifest), and a social media #hashtag contest. #poundempowered is my entry. Tickets to the event are $5 and include a brew — or, if beer isn’t your thing, a signature Kenyan coffee-inspired cocktail from Thistle Finch Distillery.

Cheers and thanks for reading!

Michael C. Upton is a freelance writer specializing in arts and leisure. He welcomes comments at somepromcu@gmail.com and facebook.com/SomebodiesProductions.

Members of Mastersonville Fire Company Saturday morning prepare for the release of Swashbuckler Brewing Company’s Pirate’s Pale Ale.

The limited release Empower IPA helps support Empower the Orphaned via Horizon Initiative and will debut June 15 at Tellus360.

Unbeknownst to each other, our own Michael C. Upton (left) and Bonifan Jeremy Martin of New Holland wore the same shirt to Saturday’s event.

Up and coming Indie artist Good Old War trekked from Philly to play at St. Boniface.

Sun and suds were the forecast for the annual celebration of all things St. Bonifest.

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