Friends practice their yoga poses while sipping on some beers at 18th Street Arts Center’s BAM (Beer, Art, Music) Festival last year. This year’s event takes place Oct. 6. (Photo courtesy 18th Street Arts Center.)

18th STREET — There’s nothing I enjoy more than drinking über-hoppy craft beers while chowing down on some farm-fresh treats. It’s even better if you can help someone in between bites.
I’ll have that opportunity next weekend when I attend two Santa Monica events that feature my two loves — beer and food.
The first is the third-annual Beer, Art and Music Festival (known to us veterans simply as BAM) at the eclectic 18th Street Arts Center on Saturday, Oct. 6. The event, which raises funds for the 24-year-old nonprofit  arts organization, will feature 34 craft breweries, four bands, three galleries and some of the most popular food trucks.
For just $45 dollars at the door ($40 if you purchase online at http://18thstreet.org/events/bam-fest-2012), you can sample suds from some of the best brewers in the business, including Sierra Nevada and North Coast, Ballast Point and Pizza Port. Beer industry veteran Martin Svab, formerly of Stone Brewing Co. and Naja’s Place, helped coordinate the craft beer side of the event this year.
Rumor has it that there will be some barrel-aged beers this time around, as well as a tent for those who like wines or home-brewed sodas courtesy of Pacific Gravity Home Brewers Club, of which I am formerly a member. (I had to give up my membership because I could never make it to the meetings. Darn West L.A. traffic.)
I love this event because not only can you sample many different styles of beers, from saisons to stouts to bitter IPAs, you also have the chance to gaze upon various forms of artistic expression and chat with the artists in residence, many of whom draw inspiration from Santa Monica and the surrounding areas. These artists open up their homes and are eager to share their work.
And the greatest thing about it is you don’t have to drive to get there. I take the Big Blue’s Line 1, which drops me off just two blocks from the arts center. You can also hop on Line 5, which runs along Colorado Avenue. There will also be a free bike valet.
This is by far one of the better beer events in the region and improves each year. I hope 18th Street continues what has now become a fall tradition for me and my compadres.
For more information, visit www.18thstreet.org
The other altruistic event takes place on Sunday, Oct. 7 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Upper West, a hip restaurant at the eastern end of Pico Boulevard that features food by chef Nick Shipp. Shipp will be teaming up with the nonprofit Junior Blind of America to make what is sure to be a remarkable dinner with the help of blind children.
The seasonal menu will feature ginger-cauliflower soup, grilled colossal Santa Barbara prawns, ancho-braised short ribs and double chocolate pot de creme.
Shipp, who was born completely blind in one eye, wanted to do something to help kids and contact Junior Blind of America after learning about their youth work readiness program, called Student Transition Enrichment Program, or STEP.
“Our students are very excited to roll up their sleeves and get to work,” said Lisett Chavarela, director of marketing at Junior Blind of America.
Shipp, who takes traditional dishes and fuses various flavors for a unique culinary experience, said he has always felt lucky to have at least one good eye.
“I don’t know why I was born with one working eye, but even with all the taunting and difficulties I had with my vision growing up, I realize how lucky I am to have partial vision and I vowed to give back,” he said. “Finally I’m able to help these kids, with really impaired or no vision, achieve their dreams and aspirations.”
Make a reservation now, because it is sure to fill up fast. All profits from the event will be donated to Junior Blind of America. For more information, visit www.theupperwest.com or www.juniorblind.org, or call (310) 586-1111.
The four-course dinner will run you $55 per person, plus tax and tip. Definitely a small price to pay to make a difference in a kid’s life.

kevinh@smdp.com