Beer might not always solve problems, but Plaza Beer Walk is doing its best to raise money for struggling area schools. The monthly event, which returns 6 p.m. July 26 with beers by Elk Valley Brewing Co., champions public school students while putting the fun in “funding.”
The event began in 2016 when the owners of Saints and The Mule in the Plaza District were trying to develop a monthly event that would be mutually beneficial to all the bars in the neighborhood. Bryan Grigsby of Refresh Creative Management, which helped launch Plaza Beer Walk, said the proprietors landed on a common concern.
“There was a lot of discussion about some of the funding problems that the local schools were having, which is just a general topic of discussion these days,” he said.
To bring in the crowds, the beer walk selects either local breweries or craft beers that are beginning to be distributed in the Oklahoma City market.
“They try their best to try to identify breweries that they think will have the biggest impact on this particular month,” Grigsby said. “For instance, last month was Sixpoint Brewery. They were coming into Oklahoma for the first time.”
Whenever possible, Plaza Beer Walk offers something that cannot normally be found on those shelves or in those bars, creating a greater sense of urgency among the craft brew lovers.
“So, if it’s a local brewery, they’ll usually throw in some kegs of one-off or specialty brews that would not normally be available to the public,” Grigsby said. “The other big one for a lot of people is glassware. Beer glasses are highly collectible for a lot of the beer geeks in the state.”
Getting the glassware requires some brew-consuming fortitude. Beer lovers must visit at least two of the participating bars — Oak & Ore, 1732 NW 16th St.; Empire Slice House, 1734 NW 16th St.; The Mule, 1630 N. Blackwelder Ave.; and Saints, 1715 NW 16th St. — and order the featured beer of the night. They are given a ticket at each bar, which they can present at a third bar to get the special glassware.
The event generally focuses on one school each quarter, with the participating merchants setting a goal of raising at least $1,500. This month, Plaza Beer Walk raises funds for Classen School of Advanced Studies, 1901 N. Ellison Ave.
With Oklahoma City Public Schools superintendent Aurora Lora’s recently rescinded plan to close North Highland Elementary, 8400 N. Robinson Ave., there is a constant concern that programs or entire schools in areas with low tax bases will be shuttered. Grigsby said Plaza Beer Walk generally trains its focus on schools in the neighborhoods surrounding the Plaza District but makes exceptions for area schools with a particular need.
“The schools can spend the money any way they need to,” Grigsby said. “I think everybody’s aware at this point that the schools are going to be struggling for the foreseeable future. … So every little bit helps, and this is something small that this group of people is trying to do on their end.”
Plaza Beer Walk
6-10 p.m. July 26
1700 block of NW 16th Street
Print headline: Smart bars, Plaza Beer Walk offers specialty brews and an event that helps raise funds for area schools.