Black owned breweries are few and far in between.
The unfortunate fact of the matter is that craft beer is a whitewashed industry. It just is. The brewers, bar owners, Cicerones, writers, and nerds… Mostly White. In fact, of the nearly 8000 craft brewing companies in the United States, only about 60 are owned – whether in full or in part – by Black people.
I’ve collected eight of the best, most exciting, and innovative Black owned breweries in the country. While these breweries are as diverse as the clientele drinking their beer, they all share three common goals: cultivating diversity and inclusion, building and investing in their communities, and just brewing damn fine beers.
Oh, yeah – and proving once and for all that “Black people love beer.”
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In the heart of Washington’s wine country, you’ll find the state’s first Black owned brewery, Metier Brewing Company – a family-friendly brewery and taproom founded by Rodney Hines. Metier means “one’s calling” – Hines’s “metier” has been brewing damn fine beer and cultivating community.
Ramsey Louder is a busy man. Not only is he co-owner and brewmaster of Minneapolis’s ONE Fermentary & Taproom, but he also helped launch the Brewing Change Collaborative – an organization that focuses on promoting diversity and inclusion in the brewing and distilling industries.
Marcus Baskerville is the co-founder and brew master of San Antonio’s Weather Souls Brewing – one of the most exciting and innovative breweries in all of Texas. Weathered Souls spearheaded the “Black Is Beautiful” initiative – a collaboration series, for which Baskerville developed the base stout recipe. All proceeds generated by participating breweries are to be donated to organizations and foundations that support Black equality and justice.
It seems trite to say “Black people love beer,” but in such a whitewashed industry it’s a novel concept. Despite the frequent usage of the phrase “craft beer community,” Black people have been excluded for far too long. Beny Ashburn founded Inglewood-based Crowns and Hops Brewing to educate their community about the communal and inclusive nature of craft beer.
Kris Johnson had been making a name for himself for years, working for the likes of Cigar City Brewing and Southern Brewing & Winemaking before co-founding Green Bench Brewing Company in St. Petersburg, Florida. Johnson specializes in lagers, but has been actively expanding experimentation with fermentation and barrel-aging.
Husband and wife team Leo and Denise Sawadogo established Montclair Brewery in 2014 and opened their tap room in 2018 in Montclair, New Jersey. Leo, a native of Burkina Faso, West Africa, uses traditional West African ingredients like hibiscus, baobab, and sorghum to create unique African-inspired beers.
Not only in Cajun Fire Brewing only the fifth ever Black owned brewery in the United States post-Prohibition, it is the first Black owned brewery in all of the South. NOLA native Jon Renthrope founded the brewery in 2011. Cajun Fire draws from the city’s many cultural influences for his beers, and reinvests profits in their community.
For further reading I highly recommend the Thrillist article “There Are Almost No Black People Brewing Craft Beer. Here’s Why.”
What are your favorite Black Owned breweries? Contact me, or enter a comment below!