Big Grove Brewery supports local nonprofits

Big Grove Brewery and Taproom began their new philanthropic program Monday night by hosting a fundraiser for the City of Literature.

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Ben Smith

Patrons sip drinks at Big Grove Brewery on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017.

By Paige Schlichte
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Big Grove Brewery and Taproom combined two university staples — beer and books — in a fundraiser for the UNESCO City of Literature, marking the first fundraiser in the brewery’s new philanthropic endeavor, Big Grove Brewery for Good.

Co-owner Nate Kaeding said the brewery felt it was its mission to find ways to serve the community, and thus the endeavor was born.

“Craft breweries around the U.S. and in Iowa are a source of pride for their community,” Kaeding said. “In the last six months, we’ve seen tons of support from the community in our Iowa City location, and it’s on us to be an important part of the community and serve it in the ways we can.”

“It’s the right thing to do,” co-owner Matthew Swift said. “It’s not much more complicated than that. Deeper ties with the community means more engagement.”

The program was formally announced last week, and the brewery has reached out to nonprofits in the area to make them aware of the opportunity. The first fundraiser took place Monday night; 10 percent of the sales from 5-8 p.m. were donated to the City of Literature, the program’s first beneficiary, to keep the ninth-annual Iowa City Book Festival free for the public.

“We want books and reading to be as accessible as possible; we don’t want to put up barriers to people’s abilities to hear from authors,” said John Kenyon, the executive director of the City of Literature. “So, if we can raise funds through other means so people can encounter new books and authors for free, that falls within our mission.”

Kenyon also stated the fundraiser was a great opportunity to get the word out about the Book Festival, which runs from Oct. 8 to Oct. 15 and is the City of Literature’s biggest program all year.

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“The UNESCO fundraiser is a bit of a test run to showcase what a charity can use us for,” Kaeding said.

The brewery also unveiled a new brew called Writer’s Bock at the event. The name and recipe were both created in the Iowa City brewery after much hard work in the brew house.

“It’s the perfect addition to the start of our program,” Kaeding said. “With our City of Literature designation and the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop, one of the calling cards of Iowa City has become our literature, and now we have a beer to represent that.”

The brewery only made one batch, meaning Writer’s Bock is a limited-edition brew. Swift said creating a customized beer for every fundraiser, while a fun idea, won’t be possible because of time constraints.

Swift also said he hopes local charities use this as a way to get their message out, which can be hard for smaller nonprofits.

“We have all these great causes and charities in the community that work tirelessly to raise money, and if we can make it easier on them to throw an event, fundraiser, or celebration, we want to do that,” Kaeding said. “We have the facility and staff available to do it, and we want to be the spark to help make it happen for them.”

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