This was my second time at Hops For Hope, a fantastic art and craft beer charity initiative that takes place annually in Central Austin. Organised by HOPE (Helping Other People Everywhere), a socially conscious non-profit collective of creatives (wow, that was a mouthful!), the event brings together contemporary art and craft beer for an evening of purchasing and partying for a cause. Coming at the end of this year’s East Austin Studio Tour art weekends, folks like us who’d spent the last two weekends imbibing as much local art as possible were ready for a big boozy send-off, which is what we got!
Located in East 5th’s hip events space Fair Market, Hops For Hope gives local and visiting contemporary artists a well-publicised platform to showcase their work amidst a nicely curated range of local and national craft beer on tap and mixes by impressive local DJs. Combining art and craft beer is always going to be a winner with me, I love London Brewer’s Market and can’t wait to check out the Tate Tap Takeovers, so Hops For Hope was an easy sell especially with its inclusion of a charitable element. That said, there’s no laurel-resting going on here – these guys know their art, their beer and how to throw a grand party. For your $20 charitable dollars (100% of profits from the event go to HOPE) you get unlimited access to beers from over 20 breweries and cideries and a very cute beer jar and cosy. Excellent.
Brewery selections aren’t lazy either, there was an excellent mix of ATX faves including Austin Beerworks, Blue Owl, Independence and St Elmo as well as popular nationals like Dogfish Head, Deschutes and Odell, most of whom used the event to show off something a little special. We were delighted to get hold of delicacies like Sierra Nevada’s Trip To The Woods Tequila-Barrel-Aged Otra Vez and Stone’s 22nd Anniversary Anti-Matter DIPA (oh yes!) as well as Odell’s Cloudcatcher Milkshake IPA and Lagunitas’ Super Cluster DIPA – the standard was, indeed, very high. Of the local fare, I was, somewhat surprisingly, most excited by Celis’s Pineapple Grandis Maximus – beautifully fresh, juicy and crushable, and Hops and Grain’s excellent new Terpene Tendency IPA.
This year’s beer set-up was new, with the stalls lined up against the building’s left wall, which may not have been as aesthetically pleasing as last year’s central beer island, but certainly worked on a practical front as it virtually eliminated any queuing – always a bonus. It also allowed more space for the artwork, including the huge neon centrepiece and a good-sized dance floor, which was essential later in the evening.
When we arrived at about 6pm, the venue was already bustling with a mostly family-orientated contingent that gradually morphed into a super-trendy-hipster crowd as the evening progressed. As the beer flowed, the art began to fly off the tables, bearing out an axiom I firmly believe in – if you want people to buy stuff, give them booze! I personally came away with a rather fab print that I’ve had my on for a while by Jason Eatherly and a lovely top by Kristin Freeman, both excellent local artists. Despite turning up with an epic post-karaoke hangover I was ready to hit the dancefloor, helped along by some tip-top DJing featuring hits of the early 2000s. Ahem. Thankfully Austin hipsters aren’t too cool to dance and we partied away until close to the event’s 10pm finish. After two fantastic years in a row, I count this as an essential item on the ATX craft beer calendar – I’m ready for next year already!