SABW: Race to the Razor

Words and photos: JoMando Cruz


SA Beer Magazine, Nate the Barber of Clippers Barbershop, and San Antonio Beer Week gathered the best—and willing—beards (beerds?) in the beer industry and challenged them to raise funds for the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation for an official magazine-hosted San Antonio Beer Week event. James Ratnayeke (Big Hops), Kevin Hobbins (Independence Brewing), and Jason Davis (Freetail Brewing Co.) agreed to shave their beards for charity. And we had a clear goal: let’s try to raise $1000 together. The reason for this figure requires some explaining. 

It all started with a tequila-fueled conversation in the West Texas desert. It was February 2018, and we were road-tripping to Alpine for Big Bend Brewing’s annual Valentine’s in Valentine party. Harrison Civick and I were officially on assignment for SA Beer Magazine, the fruits of which are printed in our current Issue 9.


We had a couple of our friends tagging along—James Ratnayeke from Big Hops and Ricardo Ruiz from The Hoppy Monk. It’s Ricardo who supplied the tequila, so he shares in some of the blame. But it’s James who brought the talking point—his beard. If you’re at all familiar with the San Antonio beer family, you’ve seen James. Whether at Big Hops, a bottleshare, or a release around town, we all recognize his long silver hair and his enormous black beard. 

After checking in at our Airbnb for the night, we gathered in the common area for a night cap. But the company proved to be too good and the desert setting too serene, and one drink became many. It was near the end of the bottle that Harrison presented the question: James, how much money would it take to shave your beard? 

It was a drunken musing, sure, but fodder for a rich conversation. Several figures were proposed, including the purpose of even needing to shave the beard at all. But eventually, James agreed to shave it for $1000. Not that it was going to happen, mind you. He simply said he’d be ok with doing it for $1000, and more importantly, for charity. This was a good purpose.

A year later, Harrison is fully immersed in planning San Antonio Beer Week 2019, including which events SA Beer Magazine will host. And while many details from that trip are lost in the desert haze (admittedly a euphemism for the tequila, let’s be honest), this conversation was not. So would James like to put his beard on the line for charity?


This is how our beer week event Race to the Razor came to be. We collected donations for the cause by letting donors choose who would get the proper, straight razor shave and who would just get hit with the clippers shave down. The winner would go home with a goodie bag of prizes and bragging rights for raising the most money for charity. And we were thrilled to announce that we exceeded our goal and raised $1,295 in total.

Jason Davis raised $233 and sat in the chair first, going down to a goatee:

Kevin Hobbins raised $285 and sat in the chair next. Nate had some fun with Kevin’s shave, much to the crowd’s delight.

Finally, James raised $777 and took to the chair for his complete, straight-razor shave. Although he admitted to some nerves, he nonetheless kept his promise. His mother and brother helped Nate begin the shave.

This is why we found our sunburnt and dehydrated selves at mine and Harrison’s barbershop on Sunday, June 16, one day after San Antonio Beer Week’s kickoff party. With beer from Freetail Brewing Co. and local merchants Classy G Gentlmen’s Products, Gonzalez Handmade, and Barba Guapo Handcrafted, we gathered a full house for the reveal and the public shaving of our participants’ beloved beards. And a happy Father’s Day was had by all.