Brewers Ball
Photos: Mark Raker

Brewer’s Ball 2017 Serving Up Hops & Hope

For over a decade, the Metropolitan Washington, DC chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has been serving up hope, one pint at a time. The gala event returns for its 13th year on March 4 at the National Building Museum, and this year promises to be the best and biggest edition yet. Tickets are on sale now and cost $150, of which $80 is tax-deductible.

The 13th Annual Beer Institute Brewer’s Ball will continue to feature more than 35 of the very best local and regional craft breweries, as well as some national players. Beyond the beers, over 25 great restaurants will keep attendees well-fed while the VIPs keep the crowd moving with live music and dancing.

“Brewer’s Ball is a highlight annually for those that love great beers and better causes,” says Dennis O’Leary, one of three co-chairs of the committee that coordinates Brewer’s Ball each year. O’Leary’s desire to help find a cure for cystic fibrosis (CF) is deeply personal; his son, Casey, was born with the disease. “This event raises funds that have contributed greatly toward research for new treatments, programs and care for those with CF.”

CF is a genetic, life-threatening disease that affects about 30,000 people in the United States. Approximately 10 million additional people are carriers of the gene that causes CF. In people with CF, a defective gene causes a thick buildup of mucus in the lungs, pancreas and other organs, which clogs the airways and traps bacteria leading to infections, extensive lung damage and eventually, respiratory failure.

A few decades ago, most people with CF didn’t live long enough to attend elementary school. Through the efforts of the CF Foundation, the life expectancy of a person with CF has doubled in the last 30 years. Today, many people with CF are living into their 30s, 40s and beyond. Recent drug discovery and development programs have yielded drugs that have changed the course of CF. For the first time, two FDA-approved therapy (Kalydeco and Orkambi) treat not just the symptoms of the disease but the underlying genetic defect for a small percentage of the population. Recent research shows great potential for additional treatments that will similarly affect a larger percentage of people with CF. Although great progress has been made, there’s still a lot of work to do to put a cure in the hands of every person with CF.

Brewer’s Ball has grown immensely along with the DC area’s craft beer scene. When the event started, there were no production breweries in DC or Northern Virginia. Now, over a decade later, the event features multiple breweries from the DMV. Local favorites like Port City, Flying Dog and Manor Hill will rub elbows with nationally renowned brands like Dogfish Head, Allagash and Boulevard.

The event, which has become well-liked among breweries as well, gives attendees the chance to chat with brewery representatives, and gives lovers of fine ales and lagers plenty of chances to ask questions and find out more about their favorite suds. (Don’t worry, wine, cider and mead fans, there’s something here for you, too). Area restaurants like Ted’s Bulletin, Hill Country Barbecue Market, Matchbox, Hank’s Oyster Bar and Dino’s Grotto in Shaw pull out the culinary stops, often pairing their dishes with the breweries at the event.

Once the well-dressed attendees are fed and watered (or beered, as the case may be), they can bid on silent auction items ranging from brewery tours, to weekend getaways, to themed baskets. Using their smart phones, guests can check back periodically to make sure they haven’t been outbid on that bourbon basket they’re itching to bring home. During the live auction, guests go head to head for one-of-a-kind experiences, which in the past have included a “custom cask build experience” at Heavy Seas, a trip to Hollywood to see The Ellen DeGeneres Show and a week-long trip to Palm Springs.

Brewer’s Ball, which raised $420,000 last year, has grown from more modest roots (it raised $40,000 in its first year) and has now raised close to $3.5 million for the CF Foundation. With the help of the local craft beer community, area restaurants, and attendees and sponsors, the event will hopefully grow even more this year as it taps into the continued push for a cure.

For more information about the event, visit

For details regarding sponsorship or to be a brewery and restaurant tasting station, please contact Erin Leahey, Senior Development Director at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation at [email protected] or 303-657-8444.  On Tap is a proud supporter of the DC Brewer’s Ball.