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Home-brewed beer contest, tasting is a kick for charity

By Jennifer Nixon

This article was published January 16, 2014 at 3:07 a.m.

little-rock-kickball-association-holds-its-first-big-red-ball-homebrew-contest-on-friday

Little Rock Kickball Association holds its first Big Red Ball Homebrew Contest on Friday.

The big, red ball is a symbol of playgrounds, either a fond reminder of childhood games or the stuff of lingering nightmares. Most people wouldn’t necessarily equate kickball with community service. But they should.

For the Little Rock Kickball Association - which offers leagues for Laid Back, Novice, Intermediate and Competitive players - it’s not all about running, kicking and dodging. Participants raise money for charities through their Big Red Ball Charitable Foundation. Friday, they’ll unite a passion for foamy beverages and a passion for fundraising at the first Big Red Ball Homebrew Contest.

The linking of beer and kickball was a natural fit, says founder William Betz: “If you know anything about kickball league, beer is part of our culture. We decided it would be nice to have an official beer of kickball.”

That beer will be determined at the beer-tasting party, 7 p.m. Friday at the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History.

It may seem like an odd venue for a beer tasting, but Betz explains they wanted a place that was relatively small and conveniently close to Stone’s Throw Brewery, which will play a role in the crowning of the Official Beer of Kickball. Co-owner Ian Beard is a longtime league member, and when the official beer is determined from the home-brewed entries, the professionals will brew the winning submission.

“If you’re a home brewer, that’s obviously an ambition you strive for,” Betz says.

In addition to the contest for the official beer, there will be the 50/50 People’s Choice Contest, which has a cash prize.

Submissions are closed, but tickets are still being sold. Naturally, attendees must be 21 or older. For $20, you get a special tasting glass. VIP tickets are $30 and include a bigger tasting glass and early admission. A guitarist will play during the tasting and judging.

And, of course, there will be a charity attached.

The association is well into what it calls its 20/20 Project, a string of community service projects and fundraisers in celebration of 20 seasons of Little Rock kickball. While there’s been kickball for 20 years, the association just turned 10 this past fall.

Through Big Red Ball Charitable Foundation, support has gone to organizations such as Hearts and Hooves, Youth Home, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Court Appointed Special Advocates and Little Rock Animal Village.

This time, the beneficiary is Our House, an organization that provides services including shelter, child care and job training for the working homeless.

“We always try to work with causes that work directly with children or animals,” Betz says. “They’re working with homeless children and families. We really believe in what they do.”

For more information, call (501) 563-1244 or visit lrkickball.com.

Weekend, Pages 36 on 01/16/2014

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