Beijing’s first Beer for Books event raised rmb9,000 for the Library Project on Sunday afternoon, evening and night at Brussels. The event was jointly organized by Kenn Bermel of Brussels, Nick Papa of Duvel-Moortgaat and me to help fund a library for this school in Hebei province. There were a few issues – I realize quite a few people waited an hour or more for their food, not so fun if you have hungry kids — but overall I think it was a good start for Beers for Books and I heard several people talk about doing further events. Ten observations and comments:
- The Beijing Beatles played two sets, including “Paperback Writer”, and decided to donate their performance fee to Library Project. I know these guys are asked to play for all the time, and they have expenses to cover, so this was a very generous act.
- Last night I ran into Frank Yglesias of California Grapes, whose company distributes the five Weibel sparkling wines (pronounced Way-Bell) served at Beers for Books. He said that instead of paying him for the wine, we should give that money to Library Project. That’s worth popping a cork for. And we are talking about doing a Bubbly for Books event at the shop in Sanlitun Soho.
- Tom Stader and Christine Wang of the Library Project were on hand throughout the event to meet people and talk about the organization. I tend to get high-strung when involved in these events but Stader is the figurative eye of the storm.
- It was nice to see some bar and restaurant managers, including Andy Bright from Union, Greg Dover from Blue Frog, Charlie from Stumble Inn and Moment Cafe’s Ivan Matic, who later joined The Belgian Bulges boat race team with Chad Lager, Bermel and me. Speaking of boat races, Royal Moma Yacht Club, with guest guzzler Nick “The Funnel” Stipp, took top spot, followed by The Belgian Bulges and that’s Beijing’s Team Beerjing.
- In our other contest, we gave patrons who bought Vedett White, Vedett Blonde, La Chouffe, De Koninck, Weibel sparkling wine or root beer — the latter unfortunately arriving at ~5 PM — a coaster with which to vote for their favorite movie of the day. In the end, Beerfest, Strange Brew, Jungle Book and Cat in the Hat were edged out by The Princess Bride (thanks to Mike Shaw for providing a copy of the latter).
- Finally, five memorable moments for me: 1) Ian Burns going unplugged and singing for the kids during the afternoon; 2) Chad Lager contemplating being the fifth Beatle by trying out a wig (see photo above); 3) Ivan Matic joining our boat race team despite not being a beer fan; 4) Sarah Peel giving me a Coffee Crisp chocolate bar at my most stressful moment, and 5) nearly beating Andy Bright at pool.
I’m sure I’m forgetting a few things, and my electronic equipment took yet another beating (I always seem to have a laptop, a camera or a phone go kaput during these events), but here’s hoping that those who attended had a good time and that this leads to more beers and more books.