Last month, when the Camp Fire roared through northern California and devastated the town of Paradise, the tragedy was felt keenly in Denver. The childhood home of Noelle Phares, a local artist, burned to the ground—a stark reminder that victims of California’s fires live beyond the state’s borders. When Phares posted about her old home (where her parents were still living) on Facebook, it caught the attention of her friend and neighbor Brian Haitz, who works as the marketing and operations manager at WestFax Brewing Company on West Colfax Avenue.

“I texted her to say: hey what do you think about trying to do a fundraising event?” Haitz recalls, and from there, Colorado’s brewing and artist communities came together and planned a benefit to support the victims of California’s fires. On December 11, eight local breweries (WestFax, Great Divide, Copper Kettle, Joyride, Westbound & Down, Hogshead, Four Noses, and Woods Boss) will be at WestFax Brewing, where they’ll each release a limited-edition crowler with can artwork from Gunnison-based artist David Heath. All eight breweries will donate 30 crowlers ($12 each) and all proceeds from those sales will go to nonprofits supporting California fire relief efforts via ALMA.

Haitz hopes that the breweries will be able to raise about $3,000 through crowlers sales, but there will be additional opportunities for attendees at the event to give back. Phares will be auctioning off some of her art, and Meier Skis gave the brewery a pair of skis at-cost that will be raffled off at the event. Also, Haitz says they will have laptops set up throughout the brewery with verified GoFundMe pages, if patrons prefer to donate to relief efforts that way. He thinks the event could produce about $5,000 or more that will directly aid victims of the fire.

“We’re fortunate in the beer industry to have a platform and that we can rally people,” Haitz says. “I had some personal connections to this and wanted to do something.” Haitz expects the event to be popular, especially because Colorado has seen its share of devastating wildfires, particularly in 2018.  “I think it hits close to home for people here,” he says.

If You Go: The benefit is on Tuesday, December 11 from 4-8 p.m. at West Fax Brewing, 6733 West Colfax Avenue, Lakewood. 

Jay Bouchard
Jay Bouchard
Jay Bouchard is a Denver-based writer and a former editor on 5280's digital team.