Nearly a dozen breweries are set to meet in Pittsburgh this weekend for the nation’s first-ever beer festival for breweries owned and operated by Black Americans.
The daylong “Fresh Fest” festival is aimed at celebrating Black brewing talent in a space long dominated by white people, NPR reported. Brewers said it’s high time the industry starts looking at becoming more diverse.
“There is an overrepresentation of white folks on both the production and the consumption side,” said J. Nikol Jackson-Beckham, a Randolph College professor and expert on diversity in the world of craft beer.
Not only is beer mostly made by affluent white brewers, but its guzzled down by affluent white consumers, leaving little space for Black, Latino, Native and Asian beer drinkers. A recent survey found that Black Americans account for roughly 12 percent of beer drinkers, according to the news site.
This disparity is even more pronounced among craft beer makers. Mike Potter, found of the Black Brew Culture, guesstimates that out of the more than 6,300 U.S. breweries, only 50 (1 percent) are Black-owned. What’s worse, there aren’t any the Pittsburgh area.
“That’s not a good number, especially when you consider again the consumption side of it, how many people of color actually purchase these beers,” Potter told NPR.
Potter is now hoping to change both sides of the equation. After dabbling in home brewery and eventually launching a microbrewery of his own, the Pittsburgh-native said he still felt he lacked the funding and the know-how to get his business off the ground. That’s when he said he began searching for other brewers of color who were doing the same thing.
In 2015, Potter founded Black Brew Culture, bringing together the likes of Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster Garrett Oliver and several other Black-owned breweries. Now other brewers, including Chris Harris of Ohio’s Black Frog Brewery and Day Bracey of the popular podcast Drinking Partners, are set to make their debut at this weekend’s festival.
“For there to be an all-black brewers’ festival, it is just a huge milestone,” says Black Frog’s Harris, who will be offering a taste of his brews at the festival. ” …It would show a lot more people, you know, that there are people of color that [are] interested in craft beer.”