Friday, December 4, 2015

Check out Thrillist's article on Black People and Craft Beer

After being interviewed for this article, I knew it was going to make major, yet enlightening noise.

Cheers Everyone!

While reviewing the all-new 2016 Nissan Titan truck in Scottsdale, Arizona this week (that's my "cruisin'" side of Cruisin' For A Brewsin'), I was excited to see Twitter lighting up with the new Thrillist article written by Dave Infante called "THERE ARE ALMOST NO BLACK PEOPLE BREWING CRAFT BEER.HERE'S WHY."
Dave reached out to me and asked some great questions regarding the industry and why there is a frighteningly low number of representation from Black people in the beer industry, from employment to imbibers and consumers. He disclosed a lot of facts and conducted interviews with other African-American beer aficionados such as Harlem Brewing Company Founder Celeste Beatty, Jon Renthrope— the founder of Cajun Fire Brewing—and world-renowned brewer Annie Johnson to name a few. (And the few should be taken literally, but the list is slowly growing.) 
Beer is for everyone.
As many of you who visit this blog, read my articles including the latest one on tap designs in Issue #106 Beer Advocate, and follow me on social media (thank you!) know, I do my best to promote how fantastic the craft beer world is. Do I push the Black element? My Ale Sharpton alias does suggest my race with all due respect to the Reverend Al Sharpton, but  it was just a clever name I came up with at 2 a.m. after a few Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stouts and some greenery. Beer should be color-free unless we are discussing the actual hues of the brews being poured like straw, caramel, and dark-roasted. 
People are unaware the beer was actually invented in Africa and represented by the Sumerian Goddess of Beer, Ninkasi, thousands of years ago so beer was never a "White thing" and shouldn't be considered so now. It is what it is. I have yet to cross paths with someone who is Caucasian claim it so either. Additionally, I have been blessed to travel and visit breweries around the world due to what I do for a living, and I have yet to encounter a racial issue by anyone representing them. (There was once a beef I addressed regarding a name of a beer that was retailed by a certain microbrewery who really didn't know the history of the moniker, but after a long, informative discussion with the owner, it was eventually changed.) Beer should be celebrated and honored by everyone, and minds are opening up slowly but surely. I do not think it should be forced, but at the same time, some gradual changes can be made. Beer is for everyone.
Although I found it very disturbing that the aforementioned Annie hasn't landed a brewery gig yet with all the awards she has won, I believe the world of beer will become more diverse over time. People will realize that different races, creeds and nationalities have a lot to offer including flavor ideas, techniques, and inventiveness. Watch. 
I have a few ideas actually I am willing to explore regarding diversity, including developing initiatives, college courses, internship programs, and scholarships that teach how the world of ales and lagers include chemistry, marketing, the culinary arts, marketing, design, communications, engineering, and numerous other subjects especially Black colleges could implement. While my Cruisin' For A Brewsin' videos, Hip Hop and Celebrity Brew Tastings, beer dinners, art shows, murals, and music events me and often my company AllWays Open Creative produce to help beer cross racial boundaries like the Hebru Brantley wall sponsored by Heineken certainly help, education is another major key.
(Now also be aware of different viewpoints people who enjoy beer have on this deep subject. I saw some interesting feedback in Beer Advocate's forum on this very article you might want to peep too. Of course, like all feedback, these comments don't necessarily represent the magazine, so take in what you deem makes sense.)
Ultimately, beer will soon be addressed by only by what's coming from the taps instead of who brews, owns or sells it. And if someone wants to get in the industry, go get it. Not everyone who was white had millions to invest in their brewery. They got it from serious hustle. Ask some owners how they got started. Their passion is bananas. If there is a will, there is a way. Oh, and a side shout out to my man Kevin Blodger, co-founder and head brewer of Union Craft Brewing, Publik Draft House partner and COO Eddie Johnson, and NorthStar House co-owners Jed Ashton and Elliot Martin. They are living proof a brewery and beer bar can be owned and successful when you grind.
Stay tuned for more coverage, events, vids, articles and my annual Gift Guide coming soon.
And thanks again Thrillist. That shit was real. 

Happy Sippin'!

Ale

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