Beer and generosity seem to be perfect partners. Ray's Growler Gallery shows why with a Bottle Sharing Is Caring event this weekend, organized by a guy who knows a thing or two about beer altruism.

My first experience with the generous nature of the beer community happened in 2013 when I attended a fundraiser at Sugar Maple for a local beer sales guy who was battling cancer. The large bar was filled, taps behind the bar poured rare brews and a silent auction of more rarities took place in the back. It was an amazing show of support and, despite the solemn nature of the event, was decidedly upbeat.

Rob Zellermayer sitting in front of Ray's Wine

Rob Zellermayer

Rob Zellermayer, the recently appointed general manager at Ray’s Wine & Spirits, worked at Sugar Maple back then and played a role in that event.

“I was so proud of being a part of that,” said Zellermayer. “We raised over $17,000, I believe, in just a few hours of drinking. What a powerful lesson in beer love.”

A powerful lesson indeed, and one that Zellermayer hasn’t forgotten. The beer guru is bringing Bottle Sharing Is Caring, and idea that started at Sugar Maple, to Ray’s Growler Gallery (8930 W. North Ave.) this Sunday, October 1.

It’s a simple format: At 4 p.m., you bring an above-average bottle that’s sitting in your cellar to share with others and a donation of $20. Those funds and cash brought in by a raffle benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

“I began this series of fundraising events with the help of Sugar Maple’s owner Adrienne Pierluissi in January of 2015,” explained Zellermayer. “I feel it is our obligation and joy to use our power as a community meeting place to help our community. The practice of beer bottle sharing is the best way to express the original spirit that inspired the craft beer revolution.”

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Bottle shares are one way to exhibit beer altruism, but similar occasions happen all over Milwaukee including two big annual events—Kaden’s Wish at Champps Americana, which has been a part of raising more than $250,000 for Make-A-Wish Wisconsin, and the outstanding Crafts & Drafts Beer Fest sponsored by Discount Liquor that benefits the Wisconsin Ovarian Cancer Alliance.

“As fans of craft we understand there is a larger community to help lift up so that we may achieve our personal pursuits,” added Zellermayer. “This idea is shared with grassroots fundraising necessary to help our neighbors such as LLS.”

This Sunday’s event is a first at the Growler Gallery, but don’t expect the giving to end anytime soon. Make sure you set aside a bottle for the next Bottle Sharing Is Caring, whenever that might be.

“The idea of sharing carries over as a beautiful theme for this series that we plan on continuing in the future here in the gallery,” said Zellermayer. “But right now we are focused on our current event before we announce any future dates.”