Gone are the days when Marble, or any other local craft brewery, could simply throw a big party on the patio and raise funds for worthy charitable causes. That does not mean, however, that giving back to the community has gone away with the pandemic. It just means that marketing and events coordinator Geraldine Lucero and the rest of the team at 111 Marble had to get a little more creative.
“You are right when you say that we can’t throw a party, because I’ve been wanting to throw a party so bad. I feel it in my bones,” she said with a laugh.
“We’re pivoting. We have a couple of big projects (that were originally) lined up in 2019. One being the Starlight Wheat Ale that we brewed for our El Paso market, benefiting the Stars Scholarship, which we learned about through our distributor, L&F, in El Paso. Their former president created the scholarship in 2002 and they have been a part of it ever since. I know they’ve awarded scholarships to over 15,400 students in West and South Texas, which is awesome.”
The beer is now out in the market in El Paso.
“When we hit the market two years ago in El Paso, we were introduced to this scholarship fund,” Lucero said. “We had been making some donations to it when we arrived. In 2019, Nate Tarantino, our CFO and vice president/director of sales, he wanted to take it a step further and decided that we should brew a beer for the scholarship. We threw out some ideas. The El Paso market loves a delicious wheat ale, they loved our Wildflower Wheat, something approachable in that heat was very important. Starlight Wheat Ale was born and we decided that we had to move forward.”
Despite the partial lockdown, nothing was scaled back in terms of production.
“Even with the pandemic hitting, this was an obligation that we wanted to fulfill,” Lucero said. “We’re lucky that we’re able to with production still moving so much. We felt pretty fortunate that we were able to give back to this foundation. I know we sent over 330 cases of actual beer. A lot was allotted for draft, it was a 60-barrel batch. We’re hoping to write a nice check to the Stars Scholarship Fund and hopefully continue with that relationship, and keep building on it.”
Since that focus was only on El Paso, of course a few people had to speak out online and ask what about Albuquerque. Apparently, they have not really paid attention to all the good work Marble has done in its home city since it opened in April 2008.
“There’s always going to be someone on social media that says something about it,” Lucero said. “I was anticipating for people to start saying that. The thing is, the El Paso market has been so good to us, and we wanted to show them a little bit of love however we could.”
The project also enabled Marble to work with a former regular customer in a unique way.
“It was such an awesome project because we sought out local artist Christin Apodaca to design the cans,” Lucero said. “She actually went to school at UNM, so she has some ties to Albuquerque, too. She used to drink at the Marble bar while she was going to art school. Xavi (Romero) said when he reached out to her, they made the connection that they knew each other because Xavi used to serve her beers. It’s just really cool that it all ties back together. She was familiar with the brand and she still did her art and made it her own, something completely different than we’ve ever done, but completely fitting with the project. It’s great to be able to expand on different can artwork.”
As for community projects within Albuquerque, Marble has a big one lined up for the coming month.
“We have Tap Into New Mexico Craft Month, beginning in September,” Lucero said. “This is the third year we’ve been a part of this program with our partners St. Clair Winery, Santa Fe Spirits, New Mexico True, the New Mexico Restaurant Association, and Roadrunner Food Bank. So if retailers carry products from all three of our brands, a donation will be made to the Roadrunner Food Bank. The last two years we were able to raise $9,000, which is 45,000 meals, I believe, which is awesome. This year, it might take a bit of a hit because that won’t be as many bars or restaurants that can participate in the program. It’s not as many accounts due to the pandemic, but it’s more important now than ever. So many people have lost their jobs, unfortunately, and people are hungry.”
Lucero had also launched her own side project, Volunteer for Beer, to give back to the community, and is now incorporating it with Roadrunner.
“With that, our Volunteer for Beer groups, I reach out to everyone on GroupMe and I say ‘volunteer for beer on this date,’ and this is what we’re doing, either park cleanups or bosque cleanups, or whatever,” she said. “Now we’re able to focus that on Roadrunner Food Bank. It was awesome, I think it was the first week they allowed volunteers back. So now we’re going to do weekly or bi-weekly, however much we can.
“Let’s use our platforms for good and for team building. It’s taking six to 10 of your employees out safely in the open air when we can, and then cleaning up trash and challenging another brewery to do it. Then it spreads like wildfire. That’s when the power of social media can do its good.”
Those challenges have certainly spurred other breweries, from Steel Bender to Second Street and many more, into helping out more in their communities as well.
As for the biggest annual fall event at the brewery, Marblefest is sadly canceled for 2020, but it will live on in a new way.
“Something that we’re pivoting on is Marblefest,” Lucero said. “We always brewed a beer for it. We just started our small-batch can series on August 6 with Mountain Fog. We’re brewing 10-barrel batches up at the MavLab, then transferring a tank from MavLab to 111 and doing a small-batch canning series here. I don’t want to say little, I want to say unique or special, I don’t think any project is little. I think less beer, it almost makes it more special.”
Considering how good the Heller Bock tasted in cans, we cannot wait for Marblefest to be available in an easy take-home format.
“These smaller-batch can series, we’re using our in-house graphic designer Lisa Cordova to design the cans,” Lucero said. “It’s really cool to see her be able to express herself creatively. Our goal for the Marblefest can was to bring our celebration to a can however we can. Whenever you guys see it, hopefully you’ll see a lot of cool little elements that remind you of the street party that we threw every year. And hopefully, you’re celebrating safely at home or wherever you are.”
We can all raise a glass to that. A big thank you to Geraldine for taking the time out of her still very busy schedule to chat. And a big thank you to the entire Marble team for continuing to support good causes at home and nearby.
Keep supporting local!