As of today, more than 1,000 breweries (covering all 50 U.S. states plus 18 more countries) are participating in the Black Is Beautiful initiative started by Marcus Baskerville at Weathered Souls Brewing in San Antonio, Texas.
In San Diego, breweries that signed up are beginning to roll out their releases. AleSmith and Horus Aged Ales received national attention from Forbes for their “Mega Collaboration” which is now available for pre-order. Brewers from Abnormal, Automatic, Bagby, Belching Beaver, Burgeon, Fall, Harland, Helia, Mason, Modern Times, North Park, Original 40, Pure Project, Resident, Second Chance, SouthNorte, Stave & Nail, and TapRoom Beer Co joined AleSmith and Horus for the brew. San Diego-based Marea Coffee provided Geisha coffee for this 12.5% ABV Imperial Stout.
“I reached out to AleSmith for many reasons. They’re great friends. They were one of the original breweries that got me into craft beer. And they have an iconic history here in San Diego,” Harrop told Forbes. “I really wanted to make sure we did this somewhere that would represent San Diego and its quintessential brewing culture from the past, present, and future.”
Proceeds from the beer will be donated to San Diegans for Justice. Will Izor, the warehouse supervisor at AleSmith, told WC why they were picked:
“The issue of equity and police accountability is at the forefront of conversations not only in San Diego but around the nation. They’re working to create a transparent process to absolve officers of any wrongdoing or hold them accountable, which is a win/win for the community and law enforcement.”
Izor, who’s a good friend of Weathered Souls’ Baskerville, said that “as a Black man in the beer industry, there aren’t many of us. I think representation is key, and we as an industry need to realize that there is an untapped market of Black folks who drink craft. We see craft beer adopting the monikers of Black culture and hip hop, but sometimes we want that appreciation of the culture to also be reflected in the industry by bringing in more people of color who have the same love of craft beer that I and many of my friends have.”
“Since we are talking about equity, there are times when I walk into a brewery or beer pub and get side-eyed or treated unfairly,” said Izor. “I know a lot about beer, and sometimes people judge me and my friends, as if we aren’t up on craft, or will serve everyone but us even though we’ve been waiting at the bar longer than people who get immediately served.”
Brandon Montgomery, a certified beer server and beer judge who works part-time at Second Chance on top of his engineering job, participated in the brew at AleSmith. Izor mentioned that Montgomery is “taking the lead on getting Brothas in the industry.” Montgomery runs @BlackBeerTravelers and its Diversify Your Palate Map, which highlights breweries, wineries, distilleries, and other brands with diverse backgrounds.
“I would say right now is a time when people are pushing forward to diversify their situation and understand that there’s another way to look at things that they may have not been aware of,” Montgomery told Matador Network. “I found there’s a lot of action going on now, but it took a lot of time for people to act and break down that wall.”
Further, he said that “today you are frequenting these Black-owned, Asian-owned, women-owned establishments. But also continue to do that next week, next month. Talk about it with your friends. Change the general narrative. Have discussions and make it as if it’s nothing special to do this; it’s just understood that’s what you do.”
More local breweries participating in Black Is Beautiful with their own brews include Amplified Ales, Ballast Point, California Wild Ales (with 13 Point), Chula Vista, Five Suits (with Thunderhawk), Karl Strauss, Mikkeller SD, Stone Brewing, and Two Roots.
In late June, Coronado released a small-batch run of a new double IPA called Untitled, with 100% of the proceeds going directly to the Know Your Rights Camp and The Sentencing Project. The double dry-hopped beer clocks in at 8.1% ABV with Mosaic, Vic Secret, and Citra hops.
“We chose these two non-profits because of their outreach and involvement in the black community on a number of key issues. Their platforms directly impact the black community and provide the resources to help improve their daily lives,” said Eddie Buchannon, the vice president of business development at Coronado Brewing.
Buchannon is leading the charge to diversify the company. “The first step for us was putting together a leadership team to devise and implement an action plan that continues to push diversity and inclusiveness, not just here at Coronado, but the industry as a whole. In order for the craft industry to continue to grow, we must find more ways to bring more people in from different backgrounds and different ethnicities in order to build a community of beer lovers that reflects the diversity of the communities we serve.”
Breweries such as Pizza Port and Modern Times took to social media to announce steps they’re taking. Pizza Port’s plans include continuing to deliver training to all employees on their zero tolerance policy on all forms of racism and discrimination; mandating implicit bias training for all hiring managers and supervisors; and establishing a diversity and inclusion committee.
In Modern Times’ blog post “Our Next Steps” the company outlined their plan of action, including holding anti-oppression staff training; pursuing collaborations with Black-owned breweries and roasters; developing caucuses representing BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and female employees; leveraging political influence and supporting grassroots movements; hiring a diversity, equity, and inclusion manager when the company lifts its pandemic-related hiring freeze; supporting voter registration drives and seeking values-aligned vendors; printing Black Lives Matter on the bottom of Modern Times cans; and creating a BIPOC internship program.