Beer — It’s Part of the Community

IMG_1245Yoga classes, art demonstrations, lectures, concerts and fund raising events for local non-profit organizations.

Those might not be the things that come to mind when you think of craft breweries. But with the escalating popularity of craft beer, and the growing number of breweries throughout Southern California, it only makes sense that those establishments are becoming deeply engrained into their communities.

“One of our core values is the community, and we try to do events or things that benefit the community. We love partnering with local charities and being able to promote local small businesses,” says Simon Brown, one of the partner owners of Claremont Craft Ales.

Claremont Craft Ales and Dale Bros. Brewery in Upland are both actively involved in supporting local community organizations and donating proceeds from special events to back a worthy cause. For example, take a look at the Dale Bros. calendar of upcoming events and you’ll see they are sponsoring events to benefit support House of Ruth, Tour de Foothills and Loma Linda Ronald McDonald House, among others.

Dale Bros. will host an OktoberFiesta on Oct. 11, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Upland Community Partnership’s neighborhood-based after-school programs.

Money raised at Claremont Craft Ales’ 2nd anniversary festivities during the summer was donated to House of Ruth in Claremont.

Brown says the events “aren’t necessarily moneymakers and they don’t necessarily drive people to our brewery, but part of our business model is in giving back.”

And, as most business owners know, philanthropic generosity is also good for business.

“It’s amazing how many people in Upland hadn’t heard of us,” says Curt Dale of Dale Bros Brewery. Adds his brother Andy, “There probably are still a lot who haven’t heard of us, but now it feels as if within our home territory that our brand recognition has grown considerably.”

Along with a good product and a popular location, Dale Bros. Brewery has gained a strong presence because of its community outreach. Dale Bros. hosted more than two-dozen breweries from around Southern California and thousands of guests at its 11th anniversary celebration last January at Cable Airport’s expansive outdoor area. Proceeds from event benefited the Claremont Education Foundation.

The concept of giving back doesn’t end with sponsoring fundraisers. Dale Bros. frequently brings in local bands to entertain, while Claremont Craft Ales will offer free art classes, yoga classes and lectures for professors from the nearby Claremont Colleges. Both, along with many other area breweries, will schedule local caterers and food trucks to set up business at their locations.

“We try to do as much as we can, and we love partnering with local charities and small businesses to promote what they do,” says Brown.

Brown says that part of CCA’s community partnership is in fitting into “that Claremont vibe.” Because of his wife and business partner Emily’s ties to Claremont, Brown says they always intended to locate the brewery in her home town.IMG_1247

“We knew that the vibe in Claremont would work well with a brewery,” Brown says. “Claremont is a very local-centric, artisan community. We knew that having a locally made, hand-crafted product in the city of Claremont would have a built-in customer base from the very beginning, especially if we named the brewery after the city. We wanted to represent Claremont and its values. It was very intentional.”

The decision to locate in Upland didn’t come as quickly to Curt Dale, who established Dale Bros. Brewery as the region’s first craft brewery in 2001. He grew up in Claremont, but he moved with his family to Louisville and later Vermont. Curt returned to Claremont in 1976 to attend college, and the family returned in 1980. While they lived locally, Curt says he still considered opening the beer business in the New England area before eventually setting up shop in an industrial park on Ninth Street in Upland.”

Good thing he did, because the area now also features Sanctum Brewing Co. in Pomona, La Verne Brewing Co., Hamilton Family Brewery in Rancho Cucamonga and Rök House Brewing Company in Upland, where residents are finding that hometown breweries are indeed important members of their community.


An abbreviated version of this article also appears in the October edition of 9-0-9 Magazine