By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Michelle Forster believes in beer.
As executive director of the Wyoming Craft Brewers Guild, Forster knows how important beer is to American and world history. Important life decisions have been made after having a frosty mug of beer. Beer brings people together. Beer is an essential part of American life.
So when the coronavirus pandemic began shutting down craft breweries across the state and country, Forster began to worry. The majority of taprooms in the state depend on onsite consumption. Whie the guild can provide some assistance for its members, with no funds coming in, it’s hard to have any go out.
But in the last few weeks, the guild has created something that might help out, if even for another month.
The Wyoming Craft Brewers Guild will host a virtual festival, “Keep WY Brewing,” on Saturday afternoon from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The festival is a fundraiser for the guild, since in its work to keep Wyoming craft breweries’ doors open, it now needs a little assistance itself.
Tickets range in price from a $10 general admission ticket to a $300 sponsorship.
It might seem strange to hold a virtual festival and charge money to attend it, but Forster said it’s been a unique event popping up in more and more states over the last few weeks.
“Every week, I talk with craft brew guild directors across the country and we’ve been trying to find creative ways to support the industry,” she said.
A general admission ticket will get an attendee admission to the event’s private Facebook page. The “gates” will open at 1 p.m. Saturday, with livestream chats, virtual tastings, virtual brewery tours, trivia and drinking games taking place throughout the afternoon. Anyone who purchases a VIP ticket will gain admission to the after-party Zoom chat that will be held from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
The organizers are encouraging Wyomingites to pick up some of their favorite craft brewers’ products curbside or to-go to sip while watching so they can properly join in the festivities.
Forster hopes the guild will raise around $2,000 in ticket sales from the festival.
“Craft breweries are in danger, some of them might not be able to open up after this,” she said. “Craft breweries are often centers of giving back to their community and we want to support them. They’re more important now than ever.”
The WCBG is a nonprofit founded in 2014. Its purpose is to engage, assist in and contribute to the enhancement of public awareness of craft brewing in Wyoming and to foster the relaxation of regulatory restrictions on the distribution of craft brewers’ products.