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Winter Ale Fest to benefit ALS Association

It sounds too good to be true: go to a party, drink locally made, home-brewed beer, and benefit a charity. But that is exactly the premise of the Winter Ale Fest, a benefit for the ALS Association, to be held at the Milwaukie Center on Saturday, Dec. 21.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Trevor Lauman is pictured above during last year's ale fest. This year's event takes place at the Milwaukie Center on Dec. 21.Only 250 tickets are available for the event, and they must be purchased online ahead of time at winteralefest.eventbrite.com. The $25 tickets give attendees full access to beverages, food, live music, games, a photo booth, and a very generous raffle, said organizer Trevor Lauman, a 2002 Rex Putnam High School graduate.

“Our event will allow attendees to taste a full range of beer styles while they participate in an extensive raffle. There will be over 24 breweries present, including Ninkasi, Widmer, Full Sail, Double Mountain, Oakshire, Crux Fermentation Project, Laurelwood, Breakside, Fort George and more,” he said.

The proceeds of the Winter Ale Fest donations are going

to the Walk to Defeat ALS teams, Calhoun’s Crusaders and Wayne’s Warriors, representing the ALS Association, an organization that helps patients receive care, informs and instructs patients on how to face their new reality, and donates to research programs, Lauman said.

Dad battled ALS

Lauman chose the ALS Association, because his father, Wayne Lauman, died from the disease in 2011. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain.

His father was first diagnosed with ALS in 2003, but showed signs before that, as far back as 1998.  

His father was well-known in the community as a coach who worked with seventh- and eighth-grade classic basketball teams for Putnam Youth, and then eventually went on to coach freshman and junior varsity basketball at RPHS.  

The elder Lauman also was a volunteer for the track-and-field program at Putnam, where he still holds the long-jump record, set in 1975.  

After his father died following a long battle with ALS, Lauman went into a depression, but when he came out of that he had “a new sense of a burning desire to help others avoid the fate that my family endured. ... Enter the Winter Ale Fest.”

His father had a large influence on him, Lauman said, noting that he played basketball and ran track at Putnam, trying to break his father’s records.  

“I came close to breaking a couple, but fell just short. It was a nice little family rivalry and instilled a healthy competition to succeed. I ended up at Portland State on a track and field scholarship because of it,” he said.

Fast-forward 10 years and Lauman is back in school, pursuing his new life passion: beer.

“I’m studying fermentation science at Oregon State University now. Every day that goes by I wish I could sit down and share a beer with my dad, but I’m happy that he knew where my life was headed before he passed.”

Growing by leaps, bounds

The first Ale Fest held last year in Carver drew more than 70 attendees and raised more than $2,000.

“This year, our sponsors have expanded significantly. Everyone who has caught wind of our efforts has lent a helping hand by asking their employers or connections for raffle items. We hope to raise over $7,000 this year, and continue to expand our event and include more and more of the public in our efforts,” Lauman said.

He also noted the event would not be possible without a dedicated team of people who want to eradicate ALS, including his co-organizers, Charanne Graham and Rhonda Deitrick-Calhoun, who just lost her husband to ALS.

Another organizer, Micah Hilario, is a home brewer with a story all his own.

“He is facing ALS himself, but he’s not letting that get in the way of his passion for beer. I admire him greatly and appreciate his involvement,” Lauman said.

Hilario, a husband and father of two young children, is a school administrator in Battle Ground, Wash., where he has been brewing beer on the side for almost three years.

“I started brewing shortly after the ALS diagnosis. Some high school friends that I’ve been close with for 20 years spent the weekend with me, and one of them walked us through our first brew, an IPA. Even before tasting the final product, I knew I was hooked,” he said.

“I’ve been brewing long enough that much of the process is automatic, and I turn out some impressive beers. I’ve had to adapt some of my equipment and my process in response to my changing condition, and I can no longer brew alone, but it’s not that difficult to find volunteers to make beer,” Hilario said.

Some of his favorite brews, so far, have been Ichabod’s Revenge Pumpkin Ale, Farmer’s Daughter Saison, a Sour Cranberry Wheat and a Best-of-Show American Stout.

Beer for a cure

Hilario was diagnosed with ALS in the fall of 2010, less than three months after his daughter was born. He started noticing a weakness in his left arm and hand, to the point where his tiny newborn daughter was too heavy for him to carry.

After his diagnosis at the Providence ALS Clinic in Portland, his symptoms were generally stable for about two years, only showing weakness in one arm. However, last year the weakness and muscle atrophy spread to his right arm and left leg.

“I am no longer as independent as I was just a year ago. I am starting to walk with a cane, and I will probably have to give up driving soon. My wife now has the added burden of helping me get dressed and groomed in the morning and cutting my food, on top of keeping a home and raising two energetic kids,” Hilario said. 

In October 2012, when he learned that Lauman was organizing the first Ale Fest to benefit the ALS Association, Hilario hopped on board and also is involved with this year’s event.

“Trevor is doing amazing work on behalf of his father’s legacy, and this project can only grow in the coming years. It’s truly a testament to the character of Trevor and his father to see so many jump in with both feet to make this an event to remember.”

In addition to donating to ALS, attendees also have access to beer from 24 breweries, seven home brewers, and two cideries. Plus, there are appetizers and desserts, live music, a photo booth and raffle items. Hilario said: “It is truly an amazing time. Why should people attend the Winter Ale Fest? Because beer saves lives.”


What: Winter Ale Festival, a benefit for the ALS Association.

When: 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21

Where: The Milwaukie Center, 5440 S.E. Kellogg Creek Drive

Tickets: $25; only 250 tickets are available and must be purchased online before the event at winteralefest.eventbrite.com  

More: This event is for ages 21 and over; see a list of sponsors at winteralefest.com.

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