How many Black-owned breweries have you heard of? Not many, right? Well, that’s because there are so few.
According to a study from Brewers Association, less than 1% of breweries in the United States are Black-owned. That’s out of 8,884 total breweries in the country. This is why it is so special that these Black-owned breweries in Chicago are collaborating.
Earlier this week, six Black-owned beer businesses started working together in a six-week residency program in Chicago that is being called “revolutionary”, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
In the residency, four of the beer entities are breweries (Funkytown Brewery, Black Horizon Brewing, Turner Haus Brewery and Moor’s Brewing) and the other two are beer brands (Black Beer Baron and The Brother at the Bar).
From the Chicago Sun-Times:
Most don’t have their own locations yet — Turner Haus Brewery shares space inside a coffee shop; Funkytown rents space in a brewing incubator with other beer makers; Moor’s does contract brewing out of a brewery in Indiana. Only Black Horizon has a physical location in Chicago. Two launched less than a year ago: Moor’s in June and Funkytown in October.
Jay Westbrook came up with the idea for the residency, according to Mike Gemma, Haymarket’s director of operations.
“I found that the easiest way to get someone to listen to you is to put a proper beverage in their hand,” Westbrook said.
“This came out of my goal of shining a light on the lack of diversity and inclusion, not only Chicago’s craft beer scene, but the craft beer community as a whole,” he added. “We had this glorious idea to come together and give all of these Black brewers in Chicago a platform to tell their own story.
Jay Westbrook is the brewer behind Black Beer Baron.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, in the residency, the six brewers will be collaborating on a new beer that is being launched on Super Bowl Sunday. The perfect time of the year to drop a new beer.
The beer is called Chicago Uncommon, which is meant to honor the Chicago common brick, which was used to rebuild the city into a more durable and sturdier place after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
More from the Chicago Sun-Times:
Turner Haus uses its beer to tell stories, too, naming them after Turner family matriarchs or, occasionally, historical figures, such as “Gazelle Hazy IPA,” which honors Olympic champion sprinter Wilma Rudolph, whose nickname was “the Black Gazelle.”
“We try to make beer more than just the drink that you drink … we try to bring more meaning to it,” said Steve Turner, co-founder of Turner Haus
Turner said he’s looking forward to working with like-minded brewers.
“It’s very exciting to be in this kind of Renaissance phase of microbreweries in the city of Chicago and just in general. I think it is something that’s really starting to catch fire,” Turner said.
The beer industry is something that Black people have not had a prominent presence or voice in, so it’s good to see Black businessmen come together to make a stamp in an industry that is predominately non-Black, especially during Black History Month.