News – “America’s First Black Craft Beer Festival Was a Success. Will the Industry Pay Attention?” – “I love craft beer, and I’m in breweries all the time… and you know what? It’s still not comfortable for me. These are all-white crowds.”

A couple of Saturdays ago, an events space in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania hosted a lively craft beer festival featuring a roster of talented brewers from across the country, live music, and food trucks to sop up all the suds. And while this type of beer festival is nothing new, Fresh Fest was a definite shakeup in the genre: Billed by its organizers as the country’s first black beer festival, the event shone a spotlight on brewers of color from around the US and explicitly sought to promote their creations to a black drinking populace that, they said, has been left out by a white-dominated industry that tends to market its brews to bearded, flannel-outfitted dudes instead.

Conceived of by Day Bracey, a comedian and podcaster, and Mike Potter, a craft beer enthusiast and beer blogger, Fresh Fest sought to raise awareness of a still-nascent black brewing scene and help brewers get their products to drinkers who might still be exploring craft beer. In September, following up on the huge success of the festival, Potter will launch Black Brew Culture, an online magazine that will highlight the black beer scene and the creators that populate it. The men, both Pittsburgh natives, told MUNCHIES that both the festival and the magazine aim to right a historic wrong: the exclusion of people of color from the hugely profitable craft beer industry, a sector that generates about $70 billion annually.

“We want to highlight as many black brewers that influence this culture as possible,” Bracey said.

The black brewing culture in the US remains tiny, he said, made up of only about 50 black brewers total. Naturally, that means that such brewers are missing out on the massive amount of marketing—and drinkers’ dollars—generated by conglomerates such as Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors and Heineken, which produce “craft” favorites such as Goose Island, Blue Moon, and Lagunitas, respectively.

Photo courtesy of Epicast Network

“No black people are involved in the making or profiting of that beer,” Bracey said.

With both the festival and the website, Bracey and Potter hope to get those brewers some more exposure, leveling the playing field in the beer industry and ensuring that beer drinkers exploring new styles know about breweries that are not only small and independent, but also owned and operated by people of color.

This was actually a really good article. The writer, Lauren Rothman, is shining the light on an issue that I low key didn’t even realize existed. It brings up a lot of good cultural points about the craft beer scene. You generally don’t see black folk drinking craft beer, let alone brewing their own. In turn the butterfly effect of that is when you do go to breweries as a black man/woman there’s a high chance you’re the only one there. Comedian Day Bracey and craft beer enthusiast Mike Potter organized “Fresh Fest” the country’s first black craft beer festival. I like the direction they are going; they are stressing the importance of equality and inclusion in the craft beer scene, but not in an affirmative actiony type of way.

That’s because the actual issue is deeper than that. Craft beer is not marketing to the African-American community .1) We don’t really drink it .2) They have already been beaten to the punch by corporate giants such as Colt 45, Old English, etc. The lack of exposure to different varieties and flavors subconsciously forces you to synonymously link malt liquor to beer. That being one of the main reasons black people are turned off by beer. Kudos to everyone involved in this movement, keep fighting the good fight.

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