Little Museum’s Bright Idea

Botany and BrewsWhat would entice you to hang out at a small-town museum on a Saturday night? We’re not talking a mega million dollar showcase with state-of-the-art technology, T. Rex skeletons or A-list Hollywood stars. Just a nice little museum with a respectable collection of taxidermied animals.

Here on California’s Monterey Peninsula, the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History came up with a winning idea that drew over 200 attendees in 2014. “Botany and Brews” was so successful that they repeated it this past Saturday. FYI to museums looking for fundraising ideas: this year’s crowd packed the house.

Duane Shima pouring, second from left

Duane Shima pouring, second from left

The idea is simple enough. The museum partnered with Bottoms Up, the local homebrew supply store. Owner Duane Shima organized eight homebrewers into two groups that made and donated a total of 12 different beers. Brewers in the first group used the same recipe, varying only the hops. Those in the second group used the same recipe, varying only the yeast. The brewers served as bartenders for the event.

A $20 ticket ($15 for museum members), netted attendees a glass and six tickets. In the pouring room, samples were free. A full glass or four to five ounces, cost one ticket. For those who ran out of tickets or preferred other-than beer beverages, local brewpub Peter B’s donated a couple of kegs for the beer and wine cash bar.

Dave Holodiloff band

Dave Holodiloff band

Among the mingling guests near the museum’s avian section, I asked a woman about her beer t-shirt in English and Japanese and ended up in a longish conversation about homebrewing in Japan. In a nutshell, there’s not a lot of it. The woman and her husband, who lived four years in Japan, reported that homebrewing anything above 1% ABV is illegal. (By comparison, a Coors or Bud runs about 5%, a Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine, 9.6%.) The couple told of an acquaintance using his propane set-up on an apartment balcony, only to have a neighbor call the police, who showed up and scolded the brewer for his strong drink.

Painting room

Painting room

Activity wasn’t limited to the beer serving area. Across the main entrance, another room featured snacks and local musician Dave Holodiloff and his band. In what was by far the quietest room, a group of adults sat nearly silent, engrossed in painting with water colors made from stout, wine, green tea and coffee. In the museum’s classroom, local microbiologist Mark Trent gave a talk on the fermentation process in making beer.

OCT 2015 Pacific Grove, CA, with Hugo Patiño at Botany and Brews Night

Photo op with Hugo Patiño

An upstairs photo op area, reminiscent of a high school prom, was seeing plenty of action. With no official photographer, a member of one group would snap a picture of another group, then everyone would trade places. The result was some less than stellar photography, but no one seemed to care.

In the museum’s enclosed garden, patrons sat at scattered tables and groups of chairs, sipping beer and enjoying the evening air. A game of toss-the-ring-on-the-beer-bottle, though, wasn’t seeing much traffic when my husband and I found it under a lighted arbor.

Cornhole game, ubiquitous at beer events

Cornhole game, ubiquitous at beer events

When I stopped by Bottoms Up a couple of days later, I found Duane in good spirits. “I always have a good time at event like that,” he said, adding that all 60 gallons of beer disappeared within two and a half hours.

All in all, I rate the evening worth the money, especially given the cause and the good time. My only advice to the museum for next year: add cornhole.

 

Comments

  1. Margrethe says:

    Love to follow your beer trails dear Leslie 🙂

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