A couple of Saturdays ago, an events space in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania hosted a lively craft beer festival featuring a roster of talented brewers from across the country, live music, and food trucks to sop up all the suds. And while this type of beer festival is nothing new, Fresh Fest was a definite shakeup in the genre: Billed by its organizers as the country's first black beer festival, the event shone a spotlight on brewers of color from around the US and explicitly sought to promote their creations to a black drinking populace that, they said, has been left out by a white-dominated industry that tends to market its brews to bearded, flannel-outfitted dudes instead.
Conceived of by Day Bracey
, a comedian and podcaster, and Mike Potter, a craft beer enthusiast and beer blogger, Fresh Fest sought to raise awareness of a still-nascent black brewing scene and help brewers get their products to drinkers who might still be exploring craft beer. In September, following up on the huge success of the festival, Potter will launch Black Brew Culture
, an online magazine that will highlight the black beer scene and the creators that populate it. The men, both Pittsburgh natives, told MUNCHIES that both the festival and the magazine aim to right a historic wrong: the exclusion of people of color from the hugely profitable craft beer industry, a sector that generates about $70 billion annually
"We want to highlight as many black brewers that influence this culture as possible," Bracey said.
The black brewing culture in the US remains tiny, he said, made up of only about 50 black brewers total. Naturally, that means that such brewers are missing out on the massive amount of marketing—and drinkers' dollars—generated by conglomerates such as Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors and Heineken, which produce "craft" favorites such as Goose Island, Blue Moon, and Lagunitas, respectively.