Editor's Note: The Courier-Tribune does not endorse quick or heavy alcohol consumption but is reporting on this group to showcase one way a group of Northlanders is helping connect their community during social distancing.
LIBERTY — Northlanders and those throughout the Kansas City metro area are talking about, messaging and sharing videos with the Quarantined Beer Chugs group on Facebook. Created by Liberty locals March 20 as a way to get through the blues of social distancing implemented as a result of COVID-19, the private social media group's membership has exploded, with more than 201,500 members as of Wednesday, March 25.
The group was formed by Andrew Beile, a Liberty High School graduate, for about 20 of his close friends.
"It was just a way to stay in touch and have virtual beers with friends," Beile said, adding the group doesn't aim to endorse drinking but doesn't judge those that do.
In less than three days, the group went viral with more than 100,000 members. It now is garnering press attention from multiple publications including The Pitch.
"I don't think any of us saw this coming," group administrator Gary Still said. "It's crazy how it's brought so many together."
Now that the Kansas City metro area and people from across the country are taking notice, Beile said he and his group buddies are doing more than helping others have a virtual good time. To support musicians who are unable to perform and earn a living under area stay-at-home mandates, the group has a live music lineup each day. During those performances, artists can receive tips via the Facebook page.
Beile said page administrators are also working with Berserk Athletics, another Northland company, to create Quarantined Beer Chugs merchandise. Some of the funds raised will go to local small businesses to offset some of their losses during the stay-at-home order. Merchandise can be found at https://bit.ly/2WBODDh.
"Starting with KC, we will choose local businesses in need and charities supporting service industry workers and full-time musicians. And if we are successful, we will branch out to other states, starting with the ones represented by our (administrators) like Austin, Texas and Bend, Oregon. We have seriously high hopes to make a difference at this point."
The group has also caught the eyes of a local beer sponsor. 3Halves Brewing Co. of Liberty produced a QBC Wheat ale that locals can get curbside from the historic Liberty Square brewery location, 110 E. Kansas St. Sales will also help benefit small businesses.
"(We want to) help people socialize when that aspect of our lives has been put on pause," group administrator Sean Davis said. "We're social animals and human interaction is important."
While the group was founded to share some brews, many members of the group have been posting more kid-friendly liquid options. There's been juice, chocolate milk and a group sponsored hydration day where members chugged water Tuesday, March 24.
Still added that the aim is to make everyone feel bonded together while being responsible amid coronavirus concerns.
"So far, just with laughs, it has been overwhelmingly awesome," Beile said. "I spend half my videos chugging water and encouraging nondrinkers to join in on the fun. This group is about community and spreading cheer in a scary time."