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Charitable drinking

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“When the economy goes down or when there’s a recession, the first thing people kind of cut away from their budgets is their giving. At the same time, alcohol sales go up. We figured there’s got to be a way to leverage those two realities.”

That’s Ryan Saari talking about the inspiration behind the Oregon Public House, which he claims will be the first non-profit pub in the United States. Now, before you roll your eyes and chalk Saari’s vision up to just another blip on Portland’s ultra-quirky scene, watch the entire video shot by Bus52.com. It’s extremely compelling, and here’s why:

* The Oregon Public House is housed in the historic Village Ballroom constructed in 1909 (the bar’s downstairs, the ballroom’s upstairs).
* Building renovations are 100-percent debt-free, thanks to a team of volunteers and material donations.
* The upstairs ballroom will be used as a public space for local clubs, like the Portlandishly quirky hula-hoop club showcased in the video.
* Saari plans to install a small brewery in the pub.
* The entire menu will consist of local beer and dishes with ingredients sourced from local farms.
* All of the Public House’s net profits will be donated to local charities like the Oregon Food Bank, Friends of Trees and The Mentoring Project.
* Like ordering from a food menu, customers can decide where they want their money to go by choosing from a small list of local charities.
* Level 1 Founders (that’s a $2,500 donation) will get to drink one free beer a day at the pub for life (the Level 2 $1,500 donation gets you one free beer per week for life).

The beer world’s filled with charitable giving, but I can’t say I’ve ever seen a non-profit pub. As a consumer—and a passionate one if you’re reading this blog—is this something you’d consider getting involved with?


Chris Staten is DRAFT’s beer editor. Follow him on Twitter at @DRAFTbeereditor and email him at chris.staten@draftmag.com.


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One Comment

  • Billy Clayton says:

    This is a great way to involve and engage people with the local community. I like this idea and the idea of co-op breweries to get people involved with doing something good for their local neighborhoods.

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