(May 15, 2015) Assateague Coastal Trust and SweetWater Brewing Company are presenting the second annual Toast to the Coast Friday at 6 p.m. at the West-O Bottle Shop & Bar.
Admission is free, and the event features free tastings of SweetWater beers, as well as samples of sustainably farmed wines, handcrafted rums and snacks donated by Barn 34 and OC Wasabi.
Steve Farr, development director at the trust, compared the event to a cocktail party.
“It’s really an opportunity to introduce ourselves to people who don’t know a lot about us,” he said. “It gives us the opportunity to attract our current members as well as new members to informally get together and talk and present some information on some issues in a more relaxed, informal atmosphere.
“We find that it’s easier to attract people who may not already know us and love us if there’s some fun thrown in, and in this case it’s an opportunity to taste some great beer, wine and rum, and hang out on a Friday evening,” he said.
The event will double as a fundraiser and awareness drive for the nonprofit, and as a celebration of SweetWater’s entry into the Maryland marketplace.
The Atlanta-based brewery already has a track record of supporting environmental groups by donating more than $700,000 in the last decade to the Waterkeeper Alliance and supporting clean water advocacy in the southeast.
“As [SweetWater] expands the market for their beers, they’re looking for partnerships with the local waterkeepers in those areas and we’re fortunate to be one of those here,” Farr said. “They’re sending someone up from their main brewery in Atlanta to help introduce the company to this area, as well as pour some of their beers for tastings – and hopefully sales.”
The bar will sell additional drinks, including those made with sustainable rums, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting trust.
The label “sustainable” as applied to making rum reflects the methods that precede the actual distillation process.
Growing and processing sugar used to make traditional rum can be an environmentally destructive process, resulting in soil degradation and erosion, as well as pollution of local waterways. Distillation can create additional problems, releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and leaving behind difficult-to-dispose of wastewater.
Sustainable rums, on the other hand, use improved farming practices, require less energy and water, and produce fewer greenhouse gases.
Farr said SweetWater and the trust plan to continue the partnership and will likely hold additional events during the spring, summer and fall.
“They want to get out in the marketplace as a new product, and if we can have a partnership with a beer company that is sustainable and demonstrates good corporate citizenship – and also entice people with some tasty beer – that’s always a good thing.”
ACT will also facilitate displays during the event that provide information on issues including the proposed offshore oil and gas exploration currently under consideration by the federal government.
“That’s a really important issue that we hope to be able to educate and engage event participants about while they taste good clean beverages,” Farr said.
At the end of the day, Farr said Toast for the Coast is about, “awareness and fun.”
“Last year’s event was successful in terms of bringing people out to have a good time and learning a little bit about what we do, and we hope that this one will be even more successful,” Farr said.
West-O Bottle Shop & Bar on 12611 is located at 12611 Ocean Gateway in Ocean City. For more information call 410-629-1538 or visit www.actforbays.org.