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Cincinnati breweries join forces to build community through charitable giving

Narrow Path co-founder Chad Powers interacts with guests.

Taproom at Narrow Path

Narrow Path Brewing Company in Loveland

New MadTree Brewing facility in Oakley

MadTree's new patio will welcome guests this spring.

MadTree's mission is to be "the most respected brewery in the region."

Mike Stuart, director of people and social strategy at Madtree, showcases the scale of new silos.

MadTree beer aging in barrels.

Weighing the hops

Locals gather for wiffle ball at Rhinegeist on a recent Monday night.


As more and more local breweries begin to embrace charitable programming and partner with the community in meaningful ways, giving back is fast becoming something worth celebrating — perhaps with a pint of your favorite local brew.
 
Narrow Path leads to community

Just north of the city, a two-lane road meanders through rolling hills, carving a path to Loveland’s historic downtown district. There, Narrow Path Brewing Company sits nestled behind Tano’s Bistro and next to a popular stretch of the Little Miami Bike Trail.
 
Chad Powers, The Narrow PathOn a recent Thursday night, the place was packed. Co-owner and founder Chad Powers says business has been steady since its soft opening in late December. The atmosphere is warm and relaxed, with a friendly neighborhood feel.
 
Narrow Path’s success is partly due to word-of-mouth buzz in recent months. But it all started five years ago when Powers, along with friend and fellow brewmaster Greg Snow, began brewing beer together on Snow’s deck in Fairfield.
 
Today, Powers and his family live just a few streets from Narrow Path, which was formerly home to Loveland Fitness. When the property became available in June, the friends jumped at the chance to invest in a prime location so close to home. They hope to give back to the local community and beyond, supporting charities they believe in.
 
“For us, giving back has always been a part of who we are,” explains Powers. “Our philosophy centers around the idea that the best way to make our world better is to partner with individuals and organizations who are bringing hope and help to our communities, both locally and globally.”
 
Narrow Path has a process for vetting potential causes and partnerships, working with global humanitarian organizations and local nonprofits to ensure donations are going to deserving stewards.
 
“We have causes that are near and dear to our heart, for sure," Powers says. "Over the next few weeks, months and years you will see these featured at our Cause Table in the taproom. We’d love for causes and organizations to emerge organically from our community. Our goal is to not just provide financial support but also expose people to the amazing work that’s happening in our neighborhoods and around the world. Through that exposure, we hope to connect people at a heart-level to these causes.”
 
This April, Narrow Path will join other local businesses to donate an in-kind gift for the Hope for Henry fundraiser, which is in honor of Henry Rogers, a Loveland baby who is in need of a kidney. Fellow local brewery MadTree is sponsoring the event at its new location on Madison Road in Oakley, which is set to open this spring.
 
MadTree celebrates new location and renewed outlook
 
Since the beginning, charitable giving and community development have been organizational goals for MadTree. Its mission is to be the most respected brewery in the region, a task they plan to accomplish through three focus areas: quality beer, people (employees) and community.
 
“Community is a vital component to the success we've had,” explains Mike Stuart, who heads up MadTree’s social strategy and human resources. "We firmly believe beer builds community and community builds beer. Community isn't just something we talk about, but it is something we live and breathe every day.” 
 
Stuart says he gets requests for charity event sponsorship on a daily basis, and MadTree strives to participate in as many local causes as possible. The brewery supports five core charities on an annual basis and promotes a “Charity of the Month” to generate additional support and awareness. Partner charities include CityLink Center, the Cincinnati Community Toolbank and Green Umbrella.
 
A few months ago, a former employee suggested that MadTree host the Hope for Henry fundraiser. Eager to help in the way they know best, the brewery quickly signed on, with space for the event at its new location.
 
“We love to be able to help childrens' charities as much as possible, and we are very excited to help with this charity,” Stuart says. “We were interested in Henry’s story and whenever we’re able to give back, we give back as generously as possible. It’s a great way to bring people together to rally together to support a good cause.”

Additionally, MadTree’s “Toss-A-Buck” program benefits a new charity each month. Customers toss cash donations through the metal grating above the bar and, at the end of the month, funds are collected and donated to a local charity. Recipients have included organizations like YMCA, Susan G. Komen, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and Toys for Tots.
 
Learn more about MadTree’s community involvement here.
 
Rhinegeist chips in with a focus on needy kids
 
Rhinegiest has been actively involved in community philanthropy since it opened doors at 19th and Elm streets in 2013.
 
Jon Colasurd, Rhinegeist“As we grew, we wanted to be able to give back to the community,” says Rhinegeist's general manager Jon Colasurd. “About two years ago, it became an official part of the organization.”
 
Now, the brewery has a dedicated staff that reviews charitable requests and funnels them through the necessary channels.
 
Colasurd and his wife are foster parents, so naturally, the brewery seeks out ways to sponsor organizations that focus on children in need. 
 
“There are a lot of charities that help children,” Colasurd says. “Any way we can help with kids is important to us.”
 
To that end, Rhinegeist has donated a Cincinnati beer basket to April’s Hope for Henry fundraiser at MadTree, joining forces with other local breweries to help raise funds and awareness for organ transplant cases.
 
Rhinegeist also sponsors a monthly community art show in Over-the-Rhine called Art on Vine. A portion of proceeds benefit OTR charities, and the event gives local artists a chance to gain city-wide exposure.
 
Every Wednesday night from 5 to 8 p.m., Rhinegeist and Cincinnati Public Radio co-host an event called Charitable Suds event in the taproom, where patrons can "come in for a beer and donate to the cause" with a portion of proceeds benefiting local charities.
 
“Obviously, it’s good for the charitable organizations to gain additional funding, and it also gives them a bit of a platform and recognition to increase awareness,” Colasurd says. “We try to encourage people from the organization to come that night, have a presence and engage with people who are curious about what they do. They aren’t blown-out events; they’re a relaxed environment where you can come out, have a beer, have a good time and do something good for a charity.”
 
Learn more about Rhinegeist’s weekly and annual charity events here.
 
Fifty West breaks from pack with more than good beer
 
Last year Fifty West Brewing Company co-sponsored a charity polo match, teaming up with another local brewery to benefit Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. 

Then in June, the brewery sponsored Punch Out, a boxing event with all proceeds benefiting Wasson Way mixed-use trail project. The event drew more than 2,000 guests and featured five boxing matches and more than 50 beers from area breweries.
 
“This industry was founded around the idea of making things with your hands, enjoying something that hasn’t been done before, being innovative and helping others,” says Fifty West spokesperson Thomas Hemmer. “The ecosystem in Cincinnati has fully embraced that lifestyle, and I think that’s a really admirable thing for the industry. It’s a beautiful thing to see charities team up for good causes.”
 
Hemmer explains that Fifty West embraces an ethos of community with programming that emphasizes getting outdoors together. He says the brewery strives to participate in as many causes as possible, only turning down an event if the cause isn’t in line with the brand.
 
“We’re in an industry where everyone sells similar products,” Hemmer says. “Every brewery sells an IPA. At Fifty West, instead of solely focusing on the product, we set ourselves apart by also creating experiences where our guests can not only enjoy a really good beer but can also have an amazing memory that will last much longer than the beer.”
 
Check back regularly for updated information on the next Punch Out event July 8. Find more information on Fifty West's charitable spin on canoeing, kayaking, volleyball, cycling teams and running groups here

One of Cincy's oldest names in beer joins the foray
 
Every month, Christian Moerlein hosts a Cheers for Charity pint night and charity tap nights, donating proceeds from each beer to various designated causes.
 
Historic Christian Moerlein Brewing CompanyPartnering with the local Flying Pig Marathon, the brewery developed a Christian Moerlein Beer Series that consists of the Bockfest 5K, Little Kings Mile and the Hudepohl 14K Brewery Run, with proceeds supporting the revitalization of the Cincinnati Brewing Heritage Trail.
 
“The reason we get involved in our community is to give back, make it stronger and more vibrant,” says Moerlein CEO Greg Hardman.
 
The brewery also hosts monthly charity events in its taproom at the brewery and the Moerlein Lager House along the riverfront.

Christian Moerlein will host Bockfest events this March 3-5 at the brewery, as well as a fish fry for Lent with proceeds benefitting St. Francis Seraph School.

Visit Christian Moerlein’s Facebook page for information on upcoming charity events.

Know of another brewery around town doing good things in the community? Let us know and we'll add it to our growing list!
 

Read more articles by Claire Rogers.

Claire Rogers is a Cincinnati-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in Cincinnati Parent, Dayton Parent, LEAD Magazine and other online and print publications. She and husband Brian reside in Loveland with their two children. Connect with her on Facebook.
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