The Black Is Beautiful initiative put a much-needed spotlight on Black breweries in the craft beer space while also raising funds for a number of activations when it first came to light in 2020. This year, the Black Is Beautiful beer will now be available for purchase in Walmart stores across 21 states from now until the end of next month for a second year, and a portion of proceeds will go towards an incubation program aimed towards women and BIPOC in the brewing field.
What makes the Black Is Beautiful collaboration unique is that the beer itself is brewed by a growing number of breweries nationwide using the base recipe created by San Antonio, Texas brewers, Weathered Souls Brewing Co. The proceeds from the beer sold at Walmart will go towards the Harriet Baskerville Incubation program as mentioned above.
Black Is Beautiful was initially launched to highlight the frustrations felt by many across the nation over the senseless deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. This year, the initiative has over 1200 breweries creating the brew in all 50 states nationwide and 22 countries around the world.
Along with the Black Is Beautiful beer, originally styled as an imperial stout, Weathered Souls also has an IPA coming to market to go along with the stout offering. Weathered Souls stated via an announcement on its website asking all breweries who use their recipe to craft a brew using their own creative takes but highlights the fact that the funds raised via the sales of the brew should go towards causes that support and uplift Black and BIPOC communities.
We briefly spoke with Marcus Baskerville, head brewer at Weathered Souls and a co-founder of the brand. Baskerville’s candid answers about the state of the industry and the purpose of the initiative were clearly stated, showing great promise of future collaborations to come.
Q&A with Weathered Souls Brewing Co.’s Marcus Baskerville
CASSIUS: Black Is Beautiful was created to highlight the injustices suffered by Black people and also as a means to connect minority communities and Black-owned breweries. What has the initiative yielded thus far since its launch?
Marcus Baskerville: Since creating Black is Beautiful in 2020, we have seen a little over 1300 breweries participate in all 50 states, as well as 25 countries. In total across all participants, we’ve raised over a total of $3.8 million, with a portion of those proceeds benefitting various nonprofits across the U.S.
C: This is the second year of Weathered Souls Brewing Company’s collaboration with Walmart. How was it going back into partnership with Walmart and what was the expectation this time around?
MB: During our first year of collaboration, we were still learning how to work with a large retailer like Walmart. In year two, we’ve found the process to be much easier as we took learnings from year one and streamlined the process. We were able to expand the program in year two. Our goal was to grow the overall visibility of Black is Beautiful by increasing the stores where the offerings are available and getting more local breweries involved. We’re excited to have expanded Black is Beautiful to over 600 stores in 2022 and have 12 local breweries joining.
C: The Black Is Beautiful beer has made its mark in the craft brew space due to all the media attention surrounding it. What was the decision then to introduce an IPA alongside the stout?
MB: We decided to introduce an IPA this year to give consumers another option. Not everyone is into big body, high ABV stouts. We thought it was the smart choice to offer customers an option with a lighter profile while staying true to the Black is Beautiful brand.
C: Explain to us what the Harriet Baskerville Incubation Program (HBIP) is, and what it hopes to achieve? We’re aware that a portion of sales of the Black Is Beautiful collaboration will be donated in support.
MB: The Harriet Baskerville Incubation Program is the next progression of Black is Beautiful. It is a space where minorities and women who are planning on opening a brewery can grow and hone their skills. It will provide education in the form of malting, hops, and yeast. It will also provide marketing and sustainability training, including full brewhouse work including CIP, maintenance procedures, and brewing, all the way to packaging the product. We will also be taking it even further and providing education in SBA loans and helping pair candidates with a loan officer.
C: What will it take for Black and minority-owned breweries to ensure a stronger presence in the vast craft beer space? What barriers do they still face?
MB: I don’t have the answer to that question. When you’re less than 1% of the fold it’s hard to ensure a stronger presence in an industry that’s 99.7% white. The best way to gain momentum is to create spaces for more Black and minority individuals to grow in the craft beer scene. Creating opportunities for growth includes incubation programs like HBIP, internships, and providing open education for others to learn. A lot of the barriers we face today are due to lack of resources, lack of finances, and a lack of education in the field. Our work with the HBIP is meant to help answer some of those needs.
C: Lastly, beer and food pairings are becoming a thing. What goes well alongside the Black Is Beautiful stout and for extra measure, which is the best way to enjoy an IPA?
MB: For the stout, it pairs wonderfully with a medium-rare ribeye, chocolate chip cookies, and brownies, or even a sharp cheddar or smoked gouda. For the IPA, I’d suggest a grilled salmon, buffalo wings, curry, chocolate truffles, or a slice of goat cheese.
To learn more about Black Is Beautiful, click here.
Photo: Weather Souls Brewing Co.
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