Todd Ruggerre Drank a Beer In Every City and Town in Massachusetts
Clinton. Hancock. Agawam. Those are just a few of the not-so-well-known communities in Massachusetts where Todd Ruggerre drank a beer with complete strangers as part of his 351-stop tour through the state over the last eight months.
On Monday, Ruggerre’s mission, the Mass Beer Tour, which started as a fun concept and turned into an opportunity for him to raise tens of thousands of dollars for a children’s charity, ended in Boston, where he put back a beer with Sam Adams founder Jim Koch to top it all off. “I always wanted to raise money for Dana Farber, and I never really had a good idea on how I could do it,” Ruggerre said about his ambitious beer tour. “Then I was talking [to a friend] one day, and I was trying to name all the towns in Massachusetts. I thought ‘how do I not even know half the state?’ Half the towns, I hadn’t heard of. I thought it was interesting, and said, ‘I’m going to have a beer in every town.’”
And so he did.
Since last October, Ruggerre has made pit stops in communities that not many people know even exist, including a nudist colony in the town of Hancock, where community members reached out to Ruggerre and invited him to put back a beer with them once they heard about his commitment to hit every place possible. “There are pictures,” he said, referencing the experience. Ruggerre blogged each beer trip on his website 351samadams.com, and on his blog, 351 Beers in 365 Days.
But a bunch of naked residents in the middle of nowhere wasn’t the only surprise encounter Ruggerre had as he rounded up more than $40,000 in donations in the last eight months on the road. The Grafton resident said he was shocked at how at least 35 communities didn’t even have a bar in town. “So instead of standing in the street and drinking a beer, I would go to someone’s house and they would have a cookout for me once I got there,” said Ruggerre.
As word spread about his fundraising efforts over the last eight months, businesses also started getting more heavily involved, including Sam Adams. Ruggerre said he mostly stuck to Sam Adams brews—it’s his favorite drink, he insists—but sampled some other local offerings when the opportunity arose.
Once out of every six bars or so, Ruggerre said there would be a fundraiser held on his behalf based on the media buzz, and they would play host as he took down a drink. “It kind of kept snowballing, and bars said ‘come here, and we can have a fundraiser,’” he said. “I met thousands of people. Everyone was just so awesome. I have become friends with people I will be friends with for the rest of my life.”
With the experience under his belt, Ruggerre celebrated at the Sam Adams brewery as his final stop on the tour, and accepted a $5,000 check from the company. “There are people who run for governor … who haven’t been to every town, and he did it for beer,” Koch said on Monday during the event.
Ruggerre said he is glad to have the fundraiser come to an end—he’s expecting a baby soon—and is particularly pleased that he managed to keep tabs on every town experience along the way. “It’s kind of bittersweet. I’m excited to have some time off, though,” he said.
So what does a beer-swilling guy do once he conquers an months-long quest that occupied nearly all of his free time? He starts preparing for the birth of his baby, and thinks about the next big adventure. “I would like to expand and do another state maybe,” he said.