During a work tour for the Keep A Breast Foundation a couple of years ago, Melanie Pierce recalls being taken aback when a 16-year-old boy came up to her with his hand outstretched. Pierce shook his hand, though she was a little perplexed. The boy related that when he was 14, he was at a Keep A Breast Foundation (KAB) event with his mom and persuaded her to have her breasts checked. Sure enough, she had a lump on her chest. The boy wanted to thank Pierce for possibly helping to save his mom’s life. “If it wasn’t for you guys, she probably wouldn’t be going through treatment right now.”
Pierce, who now works for the non-profit KAB, founded Brewbies in 2010 while she was working in the beer industry and organizing events in Southern California. Brewbies has held eight annual events at Bagby Beer Company in Oceanside, and returns to Faction for its second year this Saturday after raising $57,000 for breast cancer awareness last year. Pierce met Faction owner Rodger Davis and his wife, Claudia Pamparana, at the Great American Beer Festival, and they suggested that their beautiful Alameda location would be an ideal venue for a Northern California Brewbies. “They are super kind,” said Pierce. “They basically shut down their brewery on a Saturday to give it to charity.” (Faction also hosts Ales for ALS.)
Over the past eight years, Brewbies has raised more than $300,000, Pierce said, with all of the proceeds going to the Keep a Breast Foundation. KAB was founded in 2000 to raise awareness, provide education and empower young people about breast health. “We go out and educate people where they feel the most comfortable,” Pierce said.
This year the theme is the check yourself program: a pledge to perform a monthly self-check. A free iPhone app shows people how to do a self-check and sends a monthly reminder. Naturally, selfies are involved. Women are encouraged to take a selfie after they self-examine each month, and hold three fingers up next to their breast.
Brewbies is a good example of the community involvement that’s become a hallmark of the craft beer industry. “I don’t think the concept of trying to fund raise for a non-profit does as well in a different community,” said Pierce.
As if supporting such a worthy cause wasn’t reason enough to attend Brewbies, the event attracts an astonishing array of breweries, including High Water, Berryessa, Alvarado Street, Firestone Walker, Henhouse, Russian River, Boneyard, Pizza Port, Fieldwork, Eagle Rock, Device, Three Weavers, Sante Adairius, Beachwood, Fort Point and many more.
Tickets are $45 in advance through eventbrite and $60 at the door. A free shuttle is available at Downtown Oakland BART.