Homebrew for the Homeless | Brewing to support community

Home brewers competing in Homebrew for the Homeless contest. | Courtesy Tahoe Coalition for the Homeless

Making beer is an art. Brewing it to raise money for the homeless is a passion.


Local home brewers will be sharing their creations and helping the community at Tahoe Coalition for the Homeless’ Tahoe Beach Bash fundraiser, featuring the Homebrew for the Homeless Competition on July 20. The Coalition supports people experiencing homelessness, promotes awareness, provides warm beds and encourages self-sufficiency to help end homelessness on the South Shore.

Tahoe Beach Bash
July 20 | Noon-4 p.m. | Tahoe Beach Retreat & Lodge | South Lake Tahoe

Nicole Zaborsky, a board member for the nonprofit who is passionate about the work of the coalition, helped organize the event, which includes a contest for home brewers to prepare their best beers, brews, ales and ciders.

“We pick people from the community to judge the beer and offer a People’s Choice Award where people can vote for their favorites,” says Zaborsky.

Home brewer Dan Anderson was last year’s People’s Choice Award champion. Anderson, who has competed for four years, has two wins under his belt in this category. Last year he won the contest with his brew called, “Tahoe Coalition for Hoppiness,” an IPA fruit-forward beer. Anderson likes to give his beers names with what he says are: “funny, punny names. I generally brew for myself and my friends.

“I make two batches for the contest. One might be an IPA and then maybe something different like a pilsner or stout,” says Anderson who likes to brew an approachable IPA. “IPA styles have been evolving and are not as bitter as they used to be.”

According to Anderson, breeding hops has changed and with it so have the flavor profiles: “It’s not so different from cannabis strains. It’s all about the ratio of oils and how much oil and terpenes are in the hops. Hops can be citrus forward, stone fruit forward and I’ve tried hops with a pineapple profile, which is not as cloying or overly sweet.”

Depending on where hops are grown they can be citrusy, fruity, grassy or contain herbal or floral profiles. This year, Anderson plans to enter two brews: a New England-style IPA that is fruit forward with a pineapple profile, which Anderson says is smoother and less bitter, and one made with hops from New Zealand that boasts a lime forward flavor.

Home brewer Dan Anderson with his People’s Choice Award IPA. | Courtesy Dan Anderson

“It’s a worthy cause that makes a huge impact in our community; it’s a win win. There are hard-working people with small children trying to get by and do right by their family. It’s not always the picture of what homelessness looks like,” says Anderson.

Proceeds from the event help support the coalition’s warming center that provides food and warm beds from mid-December to mid-April every night. The facility opens from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. every day with someone on staff throughout the night in order to provide a safe space or offer assistance in the event of an emergency.

“Four years ago, we served 109 individuals in the warming shelter. This past year we served 113 individuals. Since we’ve opened, we’ve provided 10,000 bed nights,” says Zaborsky. “Guests stay an average of three weeks.”

She attributes the high cost of housing compared to income, as well as the limited rental-housing market as parts of the problem. She also points out that there are a number of local homeless people who suffer from mental health issues.

In addition to the warming shelter, the Tahoe Coalition for the Homeless offers a number of programs including podiatry visits, youth classes, classes to help people acquire Social Security and secure housing. Social workers and case managers support the effort. The organization also offers community and street outreach. Staff members walk the beach and help guide people to available services including soup kitchens for the food insecure.

“It’s important to gain trust when connecting with people. The staff knows people from hot meals or if they’ve been a guest in the warming room,” says Zaborsky.

Tahoe Beach Bash will feature live music, a beach-side barbecue, a silent auction, games, a bounce house, face painting, beer and wine tasting and the home-brewed beer competition. Tickets are $40 per adult for food and beverages, $20 per adult for food only and $10 for ages 6 to 12; ages 5 and younger can enter free. | tahoehomeless.org