One of the more heartwarming stories to come out of local social media in years was the Hoppy Grandma account on Instagram. It was run by Carmen McClelland, who featured the adventures of her grandmother, Carmen Duran, as the two hopped around the breweries of the Albuquerque metro area.
Sadly, Duran died in November, but McClelland and her family have found a way to both honor their grandmother, and to say thank you to the brewing community who embraced the star of a feel-good Instagram account.
Duran’s family has teamed up with the Master Brewer Association of America to create a scholarship for brewers to use to further their education, and they will be holding a launch party/fundraiser Sunday at Ex Novo’s The Corral from noon to 4 p.m.
“The brewing community here was so amazing to her,” said McClelland, who had just returned from out of state on Friday to kick off a busy and important weekend. “This is a thank you. To be honest, I don’t want to give her up, I don’t want to give up everything.
“Her funeral is (Saturday). I’ve been running around all day, getting all the photos together. Going through everything and taking stock, this last chapter of hers, none of us could have predicted that this was going to be it. It’s completely selfish. I don’t want to give her up. I don’t want to give up her legacy. There’s people who have no idea who she is and that saddens me, so this is my way of not having to do that.”
Instead, McClelland and her family and friends will gather at Ex Novo to raise funds for the scholarship the day after the funeral.
“The scholarship is through the Master Brew Association of America, it’s through the Rocky Mountain District, so New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and the southern half of Wyoming,” she explained. “It’s for brewers, for any kind of (educational) tuition. There’s an application and they get a say, we get a say, and for the next five years the scholarship has been promised. There will be one to three scholarships for $500 to $700 awarded annually.
“I don’t think it’s for home brewers, which would be really cool for their next step, but for now it’s for anyone who’s brewing (commercially) in any of those states. We wanted to give it a shot to see if the Rocky Mountain District is good, or if we want to give it a chance to go national.”
One person has already committed to donating $300. Beyond that, there will be special commemorative Hoppy Grandma T-shirts for sale, and raffle prizes have been donated by ReSource, Enchanted Circle, Steel Bender, Marble, and High and Dry. For those who cannot attend Sunday, you can order the T-shirts online.
Mostly, though, Sunday will be about remembering Duran with the many wonderful people she met throughout the brewing scene, from employees to customers to beer writers.
“She was so wholesome,” McClelland said. “She was so cute. She had no idea what was going on (with social media). She barely knew what was happening. She kept asking were these your friends. I told her, no, I don’t know these people, they’re here for you!”
McClelland recalled that when the COVID restrictions were lifted in July 2021, she and her family got together to discuss whether it was safe for Duran to resume her brewery visits. Ultimately, they decided it was more important for her to be around good people than to worry about the pandemic.
“We realized for her, the people watching and the socializing, if she got COVID, she was going to be OK with it,” McClelland said. “She needed that human interaction. It mattered to her.”
The family chose Ex Novo as the brewery to host the fundraiser. They had celebrated her 102nd birthday inside the taproom last year.
“I haven’t been there since she passed away,” McClelland said. “For some reason, Ex Novo holds an extra oomph. When they were building The Corral, I got her a (commemorative) brick.”
Now it’s McClelland’s turn to show her appreciation to the community that came to mean so much to her grandmother.
“How do you say thank you to a group of people that didn’t ask for anything in return?” McClelland asked. “Other than to ask them to keep brewing great beer? That’s what this (scholarship) is.”
All of us in the Crew greatly enjoyed the Hoppy Grandma posts, and we even got to meet her a couple of times, and she was just as delightful in person as she came across on Instagram. It was a little bit of joy in what was a tough stretch for everyone in the beer community, and we thank the two Carmens for bringing us a little light in the darker days.
See you all at The Corral on Sunday!