Bringing Diversity To a Brew
Date: February 3, 2023
By: Genevieve Green, BAM Staff Intern
Since its origin, the modern brewing industry has lacked representation for marginalized communities. The Brewers Association of Maryland is taking steps to speak out about the lack of representation in the industry and celebrates growing diversity among brewery owners and operators.
The national Brewers Association assesses that nationally less than one percent of breweries are Black-owned. This is a startling statistic that has prompted many in the brewing industry to take action.
Jasmine and Andrew Dill, co-founders and owners of Liquid Intrusion Brewing Company feel strongly about the need to diversify the industry. They said, “We feel that it is a golden opportunity to push the need for diversity, equity and inclusion in the craft beer sector. Black ownership only accounts for less than 1% of all breweries and beer brands across the country. Areas like the Maryland, DC and Virginia area making collective efforts to show that representation matters.”
One way that the national BA is addressing this issue is by offering a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion mini grants program. According to Dr. J. Nikol Jackson-Beckham, this program provides funding to DEI organizers and advocates.
Dr. J. Nikol Jackson-Beckham said, “Since its inception in 2019, the grants program has provided more than $150,000 in grant funds to DEI organizers and advocates around the country who have thoughtfully and intentionally promoted and fostered a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive craft beer community.”
These mini grants offer support and celebrate to underrepresented communities in the beer industry. This direct funding is just one way that the BA is tackling the issue of the lack of representation in the beer industry. Other avenues of support include industry mentorship and educational opportunities for minority-owned businesses.
In Maryland, several individuals and teams have been diversifying the local industry and they’re changing the statistics. Brewing companies like Black Beauty Brewery, Black Viking Brewing, Joyhound Beer, Liquid Intrusion Brewing Company, Patuxent Brewing, and Saga Brewing Company are producing great beers and sharing their unique stories. Each of these companies is dedicated to further diversifying the brewing industry and has been working together to cross-promote their businesses and efforts.
Patuxent Brewing is Maryland’s first 100% Black-owned brewery. Gene Lott and Davie Feaster are pioneers when it comes to diversifying the state’s brewery field. Their company slogan is, “Crafting a new culture from the ground up.” Their brewery opened its doors in August 2019.
Gene believes that the industry is getting better but there is still more that needs to be done. Gene said, “One driving force behind the lack of diversity in beer is financing. As a Black-owned business in a niche industry that has been white male-dominated, you ask yourself,’ how seriously will banks and investors take me?’ That to me is the issue. That said, the impact that increased diversity has on the craft beer community has made it more fun and interesting. It’s great seeing new takes on beer and the culture.”
By incorporating representation into the industry, it creates a community among brewers. Sheldon Goins is the owner and founder of Black Beauty Brewery Brewing Company and is proud to know and work with other black brewers. Sheldon said some of his proudest moments as a black brewer are, “Being able to connect with other black-owned breweries/Liquor companies and network. We help each other out and build each other up.
All of these Black breweries are prime examples of representation at work in the brewing industry. Be sure to support and follow each of them on their journey.