As a father of an autistic child, I can assure you that beer and autism go together. And while sometimes a beer or two is needed to get through the stress and strain of raising a child with autism, what families with an autistic child really need is a support structure they can depend on to help them navigate the difficult moments. And since over 1 out of 150 children born in this country are eventually diagnosed with autism, someone you know is probably dealing with this.
Which is why Greg Coll recently founded Ales for Autism, a non-profit organization based in Sonoma County to raises money for autism care centers, schools, and research facilities. With his niece and nephew both diagnosed with autism, Greg saw firsthand the serious challenges autism creates for young families. Greg once belonged to an informal organization that provided DJ services for parties and events and currently works for a beer distributorship in Sonoma County. Coupling his DJ experiences with his beer connections, Greg found a way to create events that show case the best West Coast breweries while benefiting families dealing with autism.
“At the end of DJ’ing a party, people would come up tell me what a great evening they had, and it felt really satisfying,” explains Greg. “I wanted to create something like that while helping those dealing with autism.” Ales for Autism’s inaugural event will be the Black and White Beer Ball held February 17th in Winsor, CA as part of San Francisco Beer Week. The event features both dark and white beers from leading West Coast breweries including Russian River, Lagunitas and Ninkasi Brewing. So while you won’t find any brown, amber, red, or green beer their that evening, you will first a tasty variety of stouts, black IPAs, black lagers, wit beers, lagers, and other beers fitting the unique format.
“The brewing community has been really supportive,” adds Greg. “Craft breweries have enjoyed a lot of success lately, and have been great about giving back to the community.” Santa Rosa’s BBQ Spot will be serving food while The Nate Lopez Trio will provide the music.
So what’s next for Ales for Autism? With April being Autism Awareness month, Greg has a couple events in the works he’s not ready to discuss yet. But when he is, you can be sure I’ll let you know about it here.