During Bellingham Beer Week 2017 a race of epic proportions, that pitted the titans of the Bellingham’s craft beer community against each other, was held at the Community Food Co-op on Forest St. Nine competitors were given 45 seconds per category to find the best representative beer. There were six esoteric styles, such as “Best beer to drink on a rainy day.” Once the competition was complete, those beers were whisked off to a top secret location and blind judged by Bellingham’s beer experts. When it was all tallied up, Lou Waldmeir of Wander Brewing took home the inaugural 2017 Beer Market Sweep trophy

But these teams weren’t just racing to compete, they were racing for their chosen nonprofit. Each team (of one competitor) paid a $75 entry fee and stated a nonprofit they were racing for. The winning team collected all the entry fees and Tap Trail said we’d donate it to their nonprofit of choice.  Lou Waldmeir stepped up for Wander Brewing to race for Bellingham Food Bank (BFB.)

It’s fitting in craft beer to support your community and with the Food Bank a only a block away from Wander on Ellis St, it was a no-brainer for Wander to choose them. Also, Chad told me they chose the Food Bank because the competition was all about food and “What better organization to represent in a competition modeled after Super Market Sweep than the Bellingham Food Bank?!”

Tap Trail met Lou and Chad this morning to present Bellingham Food Bank with a $675 check. Tap Trail designed this competition to bring the craft beer community together for fun and give back to Bellingham’s awesome organizations that support this community. The thought was, “Use beer for good!”

Max Morange, Agricultural Programs Coordinator

During our tour, Executive Director Mike Cohen told us the Bellingham Food Bank is the busiest food bank in Western Washington. It serves 1,500 families a week and 20% of Bellingham relies on the food bank. 2016 was their busiest year, when they distributed 3.7 million pounds of food. The Food Bank gets an astounding 5-6,000 pounds of food a day from surrounding grocery stores. Not only do they provide for those in need, directly at their Bellingham location, their size and support allows them to store and provide food for other regional food banks, who received 2 million pounds of food in 2016 from BFB.

Bellingham Food Bank will likely surpass 4 million pounds of distributed food in 2017. The food bank has many arms that they use to redirect food that might be under used. Max Morange oversees BFB’s Agricultural Program. He drives around in the food bank’s truck, from farm to farm, and stocks it with food. In 2016, Morange recovered 150,000 pounds of food from surrounding farms.

The Bellingham Food Bank receives 60-75% of it’s funding from individual and business donations, like the check from Tap Trail. Direct donations like these give the BFB the most flexibility and they can apply it to where they need it most. The money will go to BFB’s direct fund, which keeps the cooler running, the truck running and the lights on.

During our tour, Executive Director Cohen mentioned that on most Fridays about half the BFB staff goes to Wander Brewing. So, unbeknownst to Wander Brewing, their donation supported an organization who supports them. Double-happiness was achieved.

At Bellingham Beer Week 2018, Bellingham’s craft beer community will once again line up in a competition of palate and public good. Standing next to them will be  Wander Brewing with its trophy on the line. Everyone attending Bellingham Beer Week will have an opportunity to sign up for a limited spot to race against Bellingham’s brewers, beer tenders and owners. Put this event on your radar when we start announcing BBW18 details. But don’t wait to race in Beer Market Sweep to donate to a local nonprofit like the Bellingham Food Bank. If you’re able, consider donating time, food or money here.