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AlePrize, a Celebration of Art and Beer

It’s no secret that the pandemic has impacted the brewing industry in a major way. From taproom closures to reduced capacities to the general anxieties of keeping staff and guests safe, these have been challenging times for our region’s breweries. Fall is typically a season where taprooms can expect an uptick in business from ArtPrize visitors, but this year looks different. Following the festival’s cancellation, the Beer City Brewers Guild convened to devise a creative workaround that celebrates local art and beer during the age of COVID-19.

Enter AlePrize, a month-long, city-wide event that pairs local artists with local breweries. Chad Atherton, guild board member and Director of Market Development at Founders Brewing Company, expressed his respect for ArtPrize while detailing a temporary solution.

“All of us brewers in the guild are gonna miss ArtPrize in a big way,” Atherton said. “AlePrize isn’t a 100% supplement for what ArtPrize brings to the community, but we thought it would be a cool opportunity to connect with local artists and utilize our spaces to promote local artists.“

The scale and scope of AlePrize is comparatively smaller but obviously inspired by ArtPrize. For the month of October, local breweries will transform their spaces into galleries for exhibiting artists’ work so patrons can enjoy a pint of locally crafted beer while enjoying the craft of locally created art. A $1,000 prize will be awarded to the artist who gains the most public votes and another $1,000 prize will be awarded to the top rated artist judged by a panel of local artists and culture community figures.

Of the more than forty breweries in the guild, nearly half will be participating in some capacity. Expect a directory detailing what art you can find at each brewery. Also be on the lookout for beers brewed specifically for AlePrize.

Mitch Ermatinger of Speciation Artisan Ales teamed up with Dayna Walton, artist/owner of Solstice Handmade, to display a piece over their Wealthy St. taproom’s garage door. The two have previously collaborated on projects before so the synergy here makes perfect sense.

“This is just a great thing that we can do to drum up excitement in a dark time,” Ermatinger said. “It’s really important to remember that art is often the light that gets us out of the dark.”

The guild wants to reassure the public that the intention of AlePrize isn’t to draw crowds but to raise awareness for local artists and to give them a platform for displaying their art.

“With COVID’s prominence in our everyday lives, we want everyone to be responsible,” Atherton said. “We certainly don’t want to alter anyone’s operational procedures, capacity restraints, social distancing, all those rules that people have put in place to keep people safe. We want to make sure these guidelines are maintained.”

Head to beercityguild.com for more details.