San Francisco's Breastfest: Pouring Beer for a Cause

This weekend, hundreds of people throughout the San Francisco Bay Area will get together at one event to rally around two things: breast cancer awareness and beer. The 11th Annual Breastfest is a San Francisco beer festival, which raises money for low-income women to receive beneficial cancer treatments.

I recently chatted with the event’s organizer, Jenn, from Marin Brewing Company, about the event and its cause.

What is the Breastfest?

The Breastfest is an annual fundraising beer festival that takes place at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco.

All the proceeds are donated to the Charlotte Maxwell Complementary Clinic (CMCC), a non-profit, state licensed health clinic with locations in the East Bay and San Francisco. We hope to raise substantial money to ensure that low-income women in the Bay Area have a safety net like CMCC.

This fundraising event is operated entirely by volunteers. There are no promoters or staff to compensate, giving us the ability to raise more money for the cause!

Breastfest has been around for 11 years. How was it originally inspired?

I started the Breastfest when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was shocking to me that much of the extra care and treatment she received while undergoing chemotherapy and radiation was not covered by her insurance, even though it made her feel better, recover and get well. (Thankfully, she is cancer free today.)

I teamed up with the CMCC because they aid women through their treatments and side effects. The Breastfest is CMCC’s largest fundraising event and they rely on the money we raise each year.

We want to help raise money for women in need of complementary alternative medical treatments. These help relieve the terrible side effects of cancer and its treatments – pain, nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite – and enhance the immune systems and the quality of life.

We believe that everyone should have access to complementary alternative medical treatments but they are rarely covered by health care plans. Without the services provided by the CMCC, low-income women with cancer would not have access to these beneficial treatments.

A beer festival is a unique place to talk about breast cancer awareness. What do you do to ensure your attendees are well-educated on your cause and mission?

We want everyone to know about clinics such as CMCC and the beneficial treatments they provide. CMCC always attends the event and has a big presence. They give out information and educate attendees.

Organizers communicate their message post-event with commemorative pint glasses.

How have you recruited volunteers for the event?

When people think of volunteering they don’t often think of beer, music and fun. It’s pretty easy to get volunteers to “be a bartender” for a day to help a good cause. So many people have been touched by cancer in various ways, and they want to do something to help.

All right, we’re in. What do we need to know?

Tickets are sold for $45 in advance or $50 at the door. For an extra $10, people can join an early VIP hour to meet the brewery representatives, taste the beer, wine, cider and eat, before the crowd arrives.

With each ticket purchase you will get unlimited tasting, food, non-alcoholic beverages and commemorative glass. Festival attendees will also enjoy live music from the Famous (5:00 -6:30 p.m.) and Metal Shop (7:00 -9:00 p.m.).

Folks can purchase tickets for the raffle and enter to win a Burton Snowboard and bindings set up, beach cruiser from Marin Bikes, Marin Brewing Co. and Moylan’s shirts, gift certificates and beer, all for $1 per ticket or 14 tickets for $10. All of the food will be provided by Marin Brewing Company, Moylan’s and Pizza Orgasmica.