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H.O.P.S. Pours Very Fresh IPAs to Help Refugees Wednesday at Smoke and Barrel

Editor's Note and Disclosure: Matthew "Heff" Heffernan is both a friend of and former contributor to the site.

This Wednesday at 5pm, Adams Morgan beer, barbecue, and bourbon joint Smoke and Barrel will team up with a new charitable endeavor, H.O.P.S. (Helping Oppressed Peoples Survive) to raise money for refugees through the International Rescue Committee. The event's concept, "IPA Insanity", aims to bring hoppy beers that are as fresh as possible, possibly kegged day-of, to consumers. All of the beers on offer as part of the fundraiser will be $5 all night, while supplies last, and 100% of proceeds of the donated kegs (listed below) will go to the International Rescue Committee. H.O.P.S. will also be accepting cash donations on that night.

Here's the list of what will be available on Wednesday:

HOPS Partner Donations – $5 – All proceeds from these items go 100% to IRC

  • DC Brau – On the Wings of Armageddon
  • Stone – Enjoy By 2/14
  • Atlas Brew Works – Ponzi (day fresh)
  • Manor Hill – IPA (day fresh and double hopped)
  • Troegs – Perpetual (kegged last week)
  • Jailbreak – Ephemeral (kegged last week)
  • 3 Stars – Ghost (kegged last week)
  • Bell's – Two Hearted (kegged last week)

Chef Logan McGear Special Plate $10 – All proceeds go 100% to IRC

  • Fried Chicken Thigh
  • Mumbo butter, pickled carrots, green chili corn bread

Smoke & Barrel Featured Beers – Portion of proceeds from these go to IRC

  • RAR – Hyde
  • RAR – Blacker The Berry
  • Alpine – Windows Up
  • SingleCut – Does Anybody Remember Laughter?

The man behind H.O.P.S. is Matthew "Heff" Heffernan, a #DCBrews mainstay who has worn a lot of industry hats. DCBeer had a chance to ask Heff about H.O.P.S., and a lightly edited transcript of our interview follows below.

Where did the idea of H.O.P.S. come from? Is this something you have been kicking around for a while, or did it come up suddenly?

The idea of attempting to build a full-fledged instrument to regularly use the alcoholic beverage profit structure in order to do good; that started in November. I had realized the power of the multiplier effect when Angie Hopson and I were putting on the Give 'n Grubs at Dodge City last year. The events did such a good job of raising funds (for Miriam's Kitchen, among others) from a starting point of very little cash that I thought given the right circumstances, it had to be scalable. More space and more (and more exciting) donated things to sell should equal more cash for the cause, right? Then I was kicking the idea around with people like Dave Coleman [3 Stars Brewing] and Justin Cox [Atlas Brew Works], and it became not just a way to help those in need, but also to attempt something crazy for the love of the scene. Multiple fresh local IPAs in one bar on THE DAY they were kegged? I've never heard of anyone attempting to do that before.

How often do you plan to have events like this? Is the main function to raise money through beer events, or will there be other activities?

I'm thinking, while this is just my side passion project, quarterly is doable. Who knows though. If some people come along that have added time and energy to contribute, maybe we have the bandwidth to do more. There's already a steady stream of people reaching out to help via the website contact form, so that's inspiring. We have to be careful though. I don't think it's a secret that the #dcbrews calendar can get very noisy, and with the core of the idea relying on access to the goodwill of friends and comrades, you have to take care not to over-ask, and not to become competition for them.

There will be more than just beer events. I'm a merch nerd, so I'd like to work on selling some collectible clothing items to raise funds on an ongoing basis. There is so much cool stuff going on in the T-shirt game and with #acreativeDC. Other beer-adjacent events like softball or disc golf tourneys are also on my radar. Given my background as a Cicerone and restaurant guy, there will almost certainly be beer-and-food-fueled events, too. BBQ competition? I might have to recuse myself from the judging though…

Is your plan to convert H.O.P.S. to a formal 501(c)3?

Yes, but it's an arduous process that I don't have a ton of time to give to at the moment. I do, however, really like the idea of being able to distribute funds to different causes, as needs arise (disaster relief, etc). When you're tax exempt you can also hold cash in reserve, so you can not only be agile with your giving, but you don't start at zero for future event expenses. It's much better for budgeting purposes to not have to pay all the bills after the fact.

Why is the International Rescue Committee the charity toward which you've chosen to donate proceeds?

They are the only refugee resettlement organization that is not connected to a religious organization. They also have a global reach and a local division. It mirrors what I wanted out of the H.O.P.S. mission: act/organize locally for the global good. There is a narrowing going on politically, and part of this project is about forcing myself into using the widest lens that I can muster when viewing the current state of affairs. It's about forcing myself (and hopefully others) into constant mindfulness that there are people out there for whom every single day is about life or death; every single day is about their very survival.

What are the day-of logistics going to be like for getting this all together? How have the breweries helped you to coordinate this?

The breweries are saints. It's like some guy you kind of know comes to you and says, "Wanna fuck up your entire production schedule for a month for one sixtel of beer?" And you say, “Yes?” That's when you know you are dealing with incredible people. I mean, a few of these people are friends of mine, and I'm thinking to myself that I really risk looking like a huge dummy by even asking, but I knew it had to be big to grab people's attention and drive the energy. We would raise like $500 or $600 with Give 'n Grubs. I wanted to start doing things that were going to raise $5K and $6K, because that's where you really start to have an impact. That type of money can run a household for a month or more. When you are just arriving here from a warzone, a month of breathing room could be just the cushion a family needs.

Of course Jace and Paul, the beer guys at Smoke and Barrel, are doing a huge amount of hard work in the run-up and the day-of. Everything from space management (which is always a bear with that beer cooler) to the printing of menus. I will be helping to coordinate pickups and deliveries. Jen Marcano, Director of Operations for John Andrade [owner of Meridian Pint, Brookland Pint, Smoke and Barrel] (huge thanks to Johnny for use of the space!) will be a huge help with the accounting portion. Chef Logan McGear and GM Ben Brown will be pivotal, as they are with everything that goes on there, and making sure day-of operations go off with everything needed for service. I believe Chef is also donating all proceeds from a menu special that night. Every little bit helps!

What are the next steps for H.O.P.S. after the kickoff?

It'll be back to work on the establishment of the 501c3 and to get working on the merch and the next event. Want to keep up that momentum, you know?

If you have the time and inclination, be sure to head out to Smoke and Barrel this Wednesday and drink some hops for H.O.P.S.

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