With everything going on in the world right now, we could all use a bit of good news. Here it is: there’s a new beer coming! And while this typically generates a little excitement, this isn’t your average beer release. It is far more than that. It’s an initiative, it’s a movement, and it’s a cause. Enter Black Is Beautiful.
Weathered Souls Brewing in San Antonio is one of the country’s very few black-owned breweries. The brewery’s owner and head brewer, Marcus Baskerville, decided to create a beer that will bring awareness to the injustices faced by people of color on a daily basis.
According to Brewbound, it was initially going to be an in-house project, until Baskerville had a conversation with fellow brewery owner Jeff Stuffings of Jester King. The two decided that this should be a much bigger project with far greater reach.
What It Is
Black Is Beautiful is a high ABV stout brewed to display all the varying shades of black. Breweries across the country were invited to take part in the initiative. Each participating brewery will brew the base recipe provided by Weathered Souls, and is encouraged to put their own spin on it and love into it.
Within hours, over a hundred breweries across the country had responded. There is a counter on the project’s website that shows the number of participating breweries. I watched it go up by a hundred one day, and then another hundred the next. This made me smile so big that a couple tears fell out.
As someone who has personally experienced abuse by police, Baskerville is asking each brewery to donate proceeds from the beer to an organization of their choosing that supports inclusion, equality, and police brutality reform.
At the time of this posting, the total number of breweries that have committed to the project was 540, in 43 different states and 14 countries. So far, 80 of the breweries are in Texas with 19 right here in Austin.
A special label was created for each of the breweries to use, unifying the imagery of the initiative. Blank space was allotted so that the breweries can add their own logo and cause-supporting artwork.
“This platform and collaboration is about understanding and supporting people of color and [about] inclusion. We ask that you stand with us to create something that has never been seen before and show the world that the brewing industry is one of a kind,” as expressed on the website.
Baskerville continues, “as I write this I contemplate how the country can move forward, how we as the people, can create change, and what it will take for everyone to move forward with a common respect for one another.”
Several Austin breweries have stepped up and committed to this project. At the time of posting, these include: 4th Tap, Austin Beerworks, Batch Brewhouse, Black Star Co-op, Beerburg, Family Business, newcomer Frontyard, Hedgehog, Holdout, Jester King, Live Oak, Nomadic Beerworks, Oddwood, Red Horn, St Elmo, Southern Heights, The Brewtorium, Whitestone, and Zilker. Others are sure to join.
The breweries are busy ordering ingredients and scheduling their brew days. We can expect release dates in the next couple months. Most are planning special events for their beer release days, but ongoing COVID-19 concerns make in-person celebrations difficult to arrange. Hedgehog Brewing is planning to have a voter registration booth along with information on various community organizations. Most breweries have already chosen the organizations that they will donate to. Austin Justice Coalition, Measure Austin, and the NAACP are all listed.
This was the most common response from breweries about becoming involved. I love this because it is exactly how I felt when I learned about the initiative. Community outreach and support is at the heart of nearly every brewery I’ve ever visited. It was no surprise that so many of our local Austin breweries pledged their support.
According to Whitestone Brewery owner Ryan Anglen, “this was a pretty easy choice. We see it the same as we approach our brewery internally, we all treat each other equally and with respect. It really comes down to loving each other despite any differences and increasing our communication skills to discuss differences without harboring hate or anger. Applying this to a national and worldwide stage is an enormous opportunity that we’re honored to […] take part in. Huge thanks to Weathered Souls for getting this together so quickly.”
Tim Bullock of St Elmo Brewing added, “I’m particularly proud of Weathered Souls Brewing in San Antonio for being the leaders in this! We all feel a sense of loss and estrangement during this health crisis. The tragedies that Black people have endured, not just recently, but over so many generations, is intolerable. We hope this effort and our voice helps prevent injustice.”
Family Business Beer Company‘s Gino Graul stated, “the Black Is Beautiful initiative is an opportunity for FBBC to stand with our fellow brewers and our community and contribute to an attainable solution. Awareness is step number one in the process, but the […] goal is [to produce] policy changes that eradicate racial inequality. We’re all family. Every one of us. Our brothers and sisters of color aren’t being treated with the dignity and respect they deserve and it’s on us as family, to stand up for what is right.”
What Can You Do?
Buy the beer when it comes out! Follow these breweries on social media and watch for the beer release dates. And above all, I hope that Black is Beautiful keeps the dialogue going. Beer has forever been a great companion to conversation, and this conversation is far too important to stop.