Summer may be nearing its end, but not for Center of the Universe Brewing. The Ashland brewery will be the hottest spot in town this weekend at its transformed into a Cabana for its VA Pride collaboration beer release and celebration.
“COTU Cabana” will be a tropical-themed party and fundraiser for VA Pride, along with COTU’s beer release, “Tropic Like Its Hot”, a collaboration with Ardent Craft Ales and Hardywood.
“It’s a German hefeweizen that we added 50 pounds of pineapple and 25 ponds of passionfruit, and we also added hibiscus, its like a fruit juice beer,” said Chris Ray, co-owner of COTU. “It’s really good, its refreshing, a little bit tart.”
COTU brewed the beer at their sister brewery Origin Lab in Ashland, but the beer was also released by Hardywood earlier in the summer for their Pride celebration, LOVE ON TAP, another fundraiser for VA Pride.
The event on Saturday will have free salsa lessons with two separate lessons throughout the day, a guest flare batender making tropical cocktails made with the “Tropic Like Its Hot” beer, a Carmen Miranda lookalike contest, and Happy Empanada and The Cultured Swine will be on site serving food.
“We wanted to do something a little bit different,” said Ray of the event. “We’ve never done any kind of theme like this before, kind of playing into the tropical nature of the beer, we wanted to make COTU into a little island oasis.”
Although this is the first time COTU is going tropical, this isn’t the first time the brewery has partnered with VA Pride for an event. Last year, the brewery got together with the LGBTQ organization and Ardent Craft Ales, along with OutRVA to brew a beer for last year’s Pridefest on Brown’s Island. Both brews were on the sweeter side, and named after the classic nursery rhyme, “Georgie Porgie.” Ardent Crat Ales brewed up “Georgie,” a mixed berry pale ale and COTU created “Porgie,” a Chocolate Pudding Porter.
Ray said they’ve enjoyed working with VA Pride each year and want to continue to do so to support the LGBTQ community.
“We are equal beer drinkers here, we love anyone and everyone in our community and want to show our support, it doesn’t matter what your sexual orientation is to us, you’re family to us,” Ray said. “Any organization that brings to light and assists people to be recognized as equals in the community is something we’re all about.”
All three breweries hosting events throughout the year, with the next coming up at Ardent Craft Ales next month, are to build up awareness for the next Pridefest in September.
Center of the Universe’s COTU Cabana kicks off at 3 pm on Sat. Aug 12 and will run until 7 pm. 11293 Air Park Rd. Free. A portion of the proceeds from the “Tropic Like Its Hot” beer will be donated to VA Pride.