Beer festival raises money to fund local start-ups

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Beer festival raises money to fund local start-ups

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Brewmaster Charlie Johnson at The Brewer's Cabinet. Photo by Anh Gray.

There's a small and growing community of craft breweries in Reno. On May 3, 2014, a few are getting together to highlight some of their more unusual offerings, and at the same time promote economic development in the city.

Brewmaster Charlie Johnson stands next to two large stainless steel tanks that sit outside his restaurant, The Brewer's Cabinet, south of downtown. And he's watching his yeast at work.

"We're listening to beer fermenting currently, so what's happening is that's all the Co2 that's being off gassed..."

This is a brew that's regularly on tap here, but Johnson's getting ready for Reno's first Strange Brew Festival. It's based around unusual flavors like bubble gum beer or peanut butter and chocolate stout.

"It is a collection of local breweries making kind of really weird, wacky and extreme beers, and all the proceeds go to benefit The Reno Rebuild Project," Johnson says.

That's a fund that Johnson and his partners run to help local start-ups get going. They contribute a nickel from each sale at their five restaurants to the project that then offers short-term low-interest loans to other businesses.

"It's for some extra capital to build out a new business, sometimes they have it in more dilapilated areas of town," Johnson says.

The first to benefit from this new fund is the popular breakfast and lunch spot, Cafe DeLuxe on South Wells. Barrie Schuster, the owner, got a $20,000 loan to help open her business.

"It was extremely helpful in that it was right before I opened, and it was just that little extra money I needed to get stuff for opening day," Schuster says.

Back at the brewery, Charlie Johnson says the interest and repaid loan will eventually go back into the fund to help others in a similar situation.

If we have more small businesses that are thriving, it's just going to help everybody."