Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Drink Beer, Support the Market

A bottle from the original batch of Butcher's Brew. The beer won't be
bottled this time around. (Photo by Amira Maher)

A wave of supportive efforts that launched after the Jan. 30 fire at the West Side Market -- from a cash mob to Michael Symon's fund-raising campaign — has largely died down. But Great Lakes Brewing Co.’s contribution is just now being poured.

Soon after the fire, the brewery decided to help the market through a re-release of Butcher’s Brew — a lager originally made in honor of the West Side Market for last year’s Centennial Gala. But beer can’t be brewed overnight.

Now it’s ready. Starting tomorrow, Butcher’s Brew will be available in for-donation samples at the West Side Market CafĂ© and in $6 pints at the brewery, across the street on Market Avenue, until the contents of seven barrels run dry. This time around, the velvety yet subtly bitter Kulmbacher-style lager won’t be bottled.

All proceeds, which the brewery expects will be about $10,000, will go to Ohio City Inc.’s Market Bonds program. Customers who buy $40 worth of bond certificates to the West Side Market will get $10 for free, funded by donations from the brewery. Vendors can turn in certificates they receive for cash.

“It’s a good way for us to make sure that the proceeds are going to the vendors,” says Mary LaVenia, public relations assistant at Great Lakes. “We want to make sure that the vendors can stay in business and be able to repurchase things that they lost during the fire.”

Since its 1988 inception, Great Lakes Brewing Co.’s menu has included meat and some produce from West Side Market vendors, including Dohar Meats, Ohio City Pasta and Lance’s Beef. Over the years, partnerships that were strictly business have turned into friendships.

“The happiness there the first day it was reopened. It wasn’t just about them doing business again,” says LaVenia. “It was about seeing the friends that you used to see every week when you went to patronize their business. We couldn’t be more happy to have it back.”

The restaurant and bar saw a decrease in foot traffic during the almost three weeks the West Side Market was closed.

“Everyone, I think — we’ve talked about it in our merchant meetings — realized that the West Side Market impacted their business a lot more strongly than they ever knew,” LaVenia says. “We just want to help out the market.”

For more coverage of the market, including the vendor families who’ve been at the market for 100 years, take a look at our stories from November. For more on the brewery, including its pub-only specialty beers, check out our February beer package.

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