A Black couple gearing up to launch the first Black-owned brewery in Austin, Texas, has raised nearly $30,000 for the development of the brewery through a Kickstarter fund. Urban Jungle Brewing is slated to open in North Austin in 2022.
Shannon and Tiana Harris are co-owners of the craft beer brewery, which will also serve as a bakery, a farm, and horse rescue. According to Urban Jungle’s Kickstarter page, Harris has years of experience working in the craft beer industry and is now taking the next big step in his career by launching a brewery of his own.
“After studying business, spending 8 years in construction, portfolio accounting, 5 years of homebrewing, 4 years of collaborating with craft breweries across the US, and visiting breweries around the world, I’m finally going pro,” he wrote on the crowdfunding site.
As Harris notes, Black people are significantly underrepresented in the beer industry. According to the Brewers Association, just 1 percent of the 8,000 breweries in the United States are Black-owned.
The Harrises want Urban Jungle Brewery to be more than just a business and have made it their mission to establish a place where diverse groups can feel safe and “enjoy good beer.”
While Shannon, who goes by “the Brew Brotha” on Instagram, will manage the brewing aspect of Urban Jungle, Tiana will oversee the bakery and handle the land, which will serve as a farm and a horse rescue.
“It’s a team effort,” says Harris, noting his wife’s extensive farming experience. “There’s not that many women in the brewing industry [either],” he said. “We can bring something that’s different, new, and groundbreaking back to the community. We will be that brewery that welcomes you with open arms.”
Before Harris began to launch Urban Jungle, he was taught how to brew by the owner of the only Black-owned brewery currently operating in Texas. Marcus Baskerville, owner of Weathered Souls brewery in San Antonio, and a friend of Harris and helped the beer enthusiast learn to brew. Baskerville initiated the “Black is Beautiful” campaign, during which breweries worked together to create home brews in order to rasie money to support police reform.
“A Black person in craft beer, whether consumer or homebrewing, is scarce,” Harris told Eater Austin magazine.
Since then, Harris has received numerous awards for his beer. In 2017 he won first place at the Texas Carboy Pro-Am Oktoberfest Competition and at the 2017 National Homebrew Competition.
His work in the beer industry has spanned spanned multiple countries: In 2017 he Hosted 1st Annual International Bottle Share in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and in 2018 and 2019 he hosted the 2nd and 3rd Annual International Bottle Share in Riviera Maya, Mexico.
Finally, in 2019, Harris broke new ground when he “became one of the first-ever outside brewers to collaborate and brew with Guinness Brewery.”
Now in the planning stages of the brewery, Harris and his wife created the Kickstarter fund with the goal of raising $60,000 and are about halfway to meeting their goal. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to local organizations to help fight racial and social injustice.
The money raised through the fund will go towards the design and development of the brewery, which Harris plans to begin construction on in the first half of 2021. The Kickstarter will also support the paying of legal fees, and acquisition of permits and licenses.