Pub Crawl in Alexandria to Benefit Foundation

Pub Crawl in Alexandria to Benefit Foundation

Nonprofit provides scholarships.

While not everyone can serve in the Armed Forces or combat domestic danger as a first responder, it is possible for civilians to be heroes in their own right. Beer Army Foundation — a non-profit organization that fuels acts of heroism in local communities — holds events all year that both honor local heroes and turn its participants into such local heroes.

This Saturday, March 31, the inaugural Heroes Charity Pub Crawl in Old Town, Alexandria, will benefit Beer Army Foundation, which every year awards 10 scholarships to degree-seeking students in the United States.

“We’re a 501(c)3 non-profit community outreach organization that promotes education, volunteerism and economic impact,” said Matt Smith, deputy director of Beer Army Foundation, said. “Every year, we give out 10 scholarships to degree-seeking students of every kind in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Oregon; anywhere we have a fundraising event, we give back to that community and offer scholarships for people in the area. We are probably the most liberal scholarship program out there. We don’t care how old you are, your background, or what kind of academic program you’re pursuing. We just want to help people get where they want to go.”

Founder Dustin Canestorp, a retired United States Marine, established Beer Army Foundation to unite fellow beer enthusiasts with a passion for giving back.

“My tagline for this organization is, ‘We drink beer for a purpose,’” Smith said. “Our founder, Dustin, is a retired Marine and tries to create things that benefit the community. We do a lot of things to honor everyday heroes who don’t necessarily enjoy the limelight of being called a hero. We hold a lot of events to toast anyone who makes a positive impact in someone’s life or their community.”

Canestorp launched the organization in 2007, after his close friend and fellow Marine was killed in action in Iraq.

“I still had very mixed emotions with processing and compartmentalizing the loss of Todd … His loss was the key reason for me to begin Beer Army,” Canestorp wrote on the Beer Army Foundation website. “I just knew that I was ready to move on from the Marine Corps and do something in the beer industry ... it was time for me to pursue my American Dream which encompassed the lovely liquid that we call beer.”

Canestorp took the energy from fellowship forged with his friends during beer and poker nights in Jacksonville, North Carolina — the home of the Marine Corps base Camp Lejeune — and turned it into a charitable army of community heroes.

Beer Army Foundation, now in its 10th year, contributes to community charities and continues to grow its scholarship program through its own restaurant, Beer Army Burger Company, and a host of beer and brewing related events. These include festivals and pub crawls like the Heroes Charity Pub Crawl in Alexandria this weekend.

“It’s our way to reach the community,” Smith said. “Last year, we gave out $13,000 in scholarships. All applicants have to do is write an essay, and an independent panel stacks and ranks all the essays we receive. We don’t care if you’re going to culinary school, community college, a four-year university, or business school. You just have to write a ‘thank you’ letter if you win.”

The community giveback doesn’t stop with these scholarships either.

“Every dollar we earn goes right back into charity,” Smith said. “The more money we have, the more money we raise and the more scholarship dollars we can give out. Our impact has grown every year, too. In total, we’ve had $3.9 million of economic impact between the scholarships, events and donating to charities.”

This Saturday, the Heroes Charity Pub Crawl will begin at Murphy’s Alexandria Grand Irish Pub, and will end at Chadwicks. Each bar will host its own happy hour special, and all ticket proceeds will go to Beer Army Foundation.

Mike Wimer, Alexandria resident and organizer of the Heroes Charity Pub Crawl, said he couldn’t turn down the opportunity to help out the organization, many of its volunteers being his own friends.

“I have some friends retired from Alexandria fire department who work and volunteer for Beer Army Foundation,” Wimer said. “I’m a retired Alexandria firefighter of 11.5 years and before that, I was in the Army for eight and a half years. That’s how I got involved. I took one look at their website and thought, ‘If they’re helping all these people, I can at least help the cause this year by setting up this event in Alexandria.’”

Wimer began organizing this event six months ago, and has planned for some of his favorite Alexandria haunts to be a part of it.

“I asked 20 to 30 restaurants knowing that you need six to eight restaurants in the same general vicinity. Otherwise, it’s too spread out. Each of the participating are each running specials, most of them their happy hour specials, which is really special for a Saturday. These are all top end restaurants in Old Town and the event will go from noon to 5pm. It’s all about raising a pint for heroes.”

To purchase tickets in advance for $15, visit One can also purchase tickets on site at Murphy’s the day of the event for $20.