Black-Owned Beer Brands to Love & Support

Last week, we talked about how far behind the craft beer industry is in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion, but the incredible work being done by inspiring people to change that. Those initiatives and organizations are ones to highlight during Black History Month but also celebrate, support, and get involved with all year long--and that’s exactly how we feel about Black-owned businesses in the beer and beverage space. 

So, we’re rounding up a few--and there are many we encourage you to go out, find, and support; there are more lists here, here, here, and here, for starters--that we know and love. These are breweries, bars, and festivals not only creating vitally needed representation and visibility; they are making absolutely stellar beer, forming fantastic spaces, and putting on can’t-miss events. Also! Check out our list from last year to get to know beer bars like Harlem Hops and BierWax, as well as breweries like Brooklyn’s DaleView Biscuits & Beer.

 


Crowns & Hops Brewing Co.

Crowns & Hops founders Teo Hunter and Beny Ashburn have long been at work reaching Black people in the craft beer community, and welcoming more into the scene. Their mission has always intrinsically wrapped visibility, representation, approachability, and accessibility into great beer and great hangs. With backgrounds in media and entertainment, Teo and Beny put their experience and expertise to work first with their website BlackPeopleLoveBeer.com. A hit T-shirt for the site evolved into an entire lifestyle brand called Dope & Dank in 2016, which featured not only merch but pop-up events and collaborations with different breweries. But Teo and Beny were far from done, and set their sights on being a brewery that could collab, do events, and generally bring people together.

Crowns & Hops Brewing Co. launched out of Southern California in 2019, and was met with instant rave reviews. They won trade publication Brewbound’s 2019 Pitch Slam for beverage businesses promising to make serious waves in the industry, and ever since, have garnered accolades like Hop Culture’s Best New Brewery of 2020. Crowns & Hops transforms every beer into a movement, partnering with artists in different regions of the world for label art, collaborating with other breweries and businesses, and creating initiatives like 8 Trill Pils, a crispy pilsner that raised awareness around racial equity (the name refers to the a statistic from a W.K. Kellogg Foundation study revealing that the U.S. stands to realize an $8 trillion gain in GDP by closing the racial equity gap by 2050). The 8 Trill Pils Fund has been working to help more Black breweries open--as soon as Crowns & Hops started its own journey, it began reaching out a hand to bring others along, too.

The Crowns & Hops beer portfolio has something for everyone, too. There’s The Dopest Hazy IPA, the Santa Slays Glazed Pecan Stout, and the Royal Verses West Coast DIPA, just to name a few.

 

Rhythm Brewing Co.

Lager hive, rise up. Rhythm Brewing Co. is changing the game with a lager-dedicated brewery in Connecticut, showing how much of a whole experience a lager can be with its expertly brewed Rhythm Unfiltered Lager, as well as the Rhythm Blue Unfiltered Light Lager.

Rhythm is the creation of dancer and dance instructor Alisa Bowens-Mercado. Alisa established the brewing company in homage to both her grandmothers, who also loved to sip beer and dance. The business was also a solution to a problem Alisa saw in the craft beer market: not enough craft lager. Rhythm fixes that with a timeless craft lager ideal for anyone’s taste, and any occasion. It also makes strides in representation and visibility: Rhythm is the first Black, woman-owned brewery in Connecticut. This lager is worth a weekend trip; find out where you can buy Rhythm here.

 

Funkytown Brewery

Once you hear even a little bit about Funkytown Brewery, you’ll be planning a trip to Chicago. Celebrating community, storytelling, music, and more through exciting updates on classic beer styles, Funkytown is an exciting new brewery founded by Richard Bloomfield, Zachary Day and Gregory Williams. They were inspired after attending Fresh Fest--a festival gathering Black-owned and/or Black-operated breweries from across the country--in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2019. The trio started brewing at Chicago brewery incubator Pilot Project and officially launched in October of 2021. The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive right out of the gate. Like Crowns & Hops two years earlier, Funkytown won Brewbound’s 2021 Pitch Slam. If you do get to the Chicago area, catch Funkytown at one of their many events, pop-ups, or residencies--one of their latest beers, Chicago Uncommon, is a Chicago-style common ale and is one not to miss.

 

Barrel & Flow Fest

If you want to catch some of that same inspiration that drove Funkytown’s creation, good news: The festival is still going, though it’s now called the Barrel & Flow Fest. And it just so happens to be one of the craft beer industry’s best, most anticipated events every year. With founder Day Bracey at the helm, this festival attracts beer fans from all over the United States and beyond, spotlighting breweries owned and/or operated by Black people and people of color. It is the country’s first Black beer festival, and it stands to greatly influence others to follow suit. 

Barrel & Flow is a celebration of community, craft beer, diversity, representation, music, and more. Ticketholders are treated to rare, exclusive collaborations among the country’s best breweries, and tons of live performances from stellar artists. This year’s Barrel & Flow will take place August 13 in Pittsburgh; tickets go on sale March 1.

 

Weathered Souls Brewing

Even if you’ve never been to Weathered Souls’ hometown of San Antonio, Texas, chances are that if you’re a craft beer lover, you’ve had a beer at least made in collaboration with this brewery. Weathered Souls was founded by Marcus Baskerville, an accomplished and dedicated homebrewer who learned the ropes through tons of practice and volunteering at different breweries across the country. Weathered Souls was already a fan favorite with crisp, clean pilsners; bright and bitter West Coast IPAs, toasty doppelbocks, and more. Then, in response to events that brought racial injustice to the forefront of every conversation, Marcus created and launched a collaboration that would go on to bring the entire craft beer community together, united by one incredibly urgent cause. Since the summer of 2020, Black is Beautiful has been interpreted and brewed by 1,221 different breweries in all 50 states and 22 countries, with all of those breweries also raising funds and awareness for organizations and initiatives fighting injustice and inequity.

Marcus and Weathered Souls’ impact on craft beer is overwhelmingly important and impactful. On TapRm right now, you can find a cider version of Black is Beautiful from Good Trouble Hard Cider. 100% of proceeds go to organizations working on criminal justice reform in New York.

 

Podcasts & Films 

A great way to stay actively engaged in the conversation around diversity, equity, and inclusion in craft beer, and to find representation and visibility in the industry, and to hear important stories, and to simply keep learning about businesses, brands, and people to support? Subscribe to podcasts and seek out film projects. There are so many compelling examples led by dynamic hosts and creators.

Follow the progress of “This Belongs to Us,” a documentary in production that you won’t want to miss. From filmmaker Atinuke Akintola Diver, this movie tells the story of Black women brewers in the South, and their reclaiming of beer, something that started with women and started in places like Africa and somehow ended up being seen as the domain of white men. Check out travel show “Black Brew Dialogues,” in which host Collin Knight takes viewers to different breweries around Massachusetts to hear their stories and also discuss DEI efforts. Listen to the Beer Talk Now podcast with host Daryl Neal, and This Chick Talks Beer with Chalonda White, a.k.a. Afro Beer Chick. Don’t stop seeking out new favorites, from beers to podcasts, made by people from underrepresented communities. You can be part of craft beer’s growth to a better, more diverse industry, and your beer fridge will be better stocked than ever.

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