ANDERSON TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Paying it forward -- that's what Big Ash Brewing is doing as it begins to see a return to pre-Covid-19 levels of success.
"We are now doing the same level of business we were doing six to 12 months ago when we got started," said Dave Emery, managing partner of Big Ash Brewing in Anderson Township.
This Saturday, the brewery is hosting its Big Ash Blues Bash, an outdoor music festival to raise money for the University of Cincinnati Gardner Neurological Institute. The institute provides research and treatment for diseases such as Parkinson's.
"Bob Dames, a good friend of mine, he's been helping out around the brewery, giving us a little coaching on how to run this place," Emery said. "So, he's fighting this disease himself. He said, 'Hey, let's do a blues fest here,' and he pulled it together and initiated the whole thing."
The Big Ash Blues Bash will include two outdoor jam session on the brewery's beer garden stage. The first starts at 1 p.m. and the second at 6 p.m. Each session will feature three bands.
Big Ash's second stage, which is indoors, will feature three solo acts who perform throughout the day.
"That's normally, before COVID hit, where we would have our music," Emery said of the indoor stage.
The outdoor stage area that Big Ash added after its March closing due to Covid-19 and reopened in June is a big reason for the brewery's recovery, Emery said.
"It's clearly a blessing," Emery said of the beer garden space. "Had we been confined to just our indoor space like a lot of places are, I don't think we'd be standing here today."
The outdoor beer garden stage area can safely seat 330 people at tables spaced six feet apart.
For Saturday's Big Ash Blues Bash, customers are required to reserve a table, wear masks when not seated and not dance during performances.
"We hate masks and we hate not being able to dance, but for right now, we feel like it's the best thing to do," Emery said.
He added that the brewery books bands Wednesday through Sunday, which is part of Big Ash's way to support the local gig scene. The Big Ash Blues Bash also is just one of many fundraising events for nonprofits the brewery has hosted since reopening.
"We've raised over $200,000 for nonprofit organizations since COVID hit alone," Emery said.
Those nonprofits range from pet adoption organizations to supporting people in the restaurant industry affected by Covid-19 restrictions.
Learn more about Big Ash Brewing and Saturday's Big Ash Blues Bash by visiting www.bigashbrewing.com.