Historically, Black people have been shunned from the halls of power in the American beer industry, despite the fact that they have been deeply involved in the brewing world since the dawn of beer itself. There are a dozen well-documented (albeit ridiculous) reasons as to why, most of which stem from the systemic racism baked into this country’s laws and institutions rather than endemic characteristics of beer and brewing. To this day, less than half of 1 percent of the country’s approximately 10,000 breweries are owned by Black individuals, a sobering statistic given that BIPOC people represent around 13 percent of the overall population of the United States. That’s where the National Black Brewers Association comes in.
After successfully forming an organization to advocate for the Black mayors of America, Kevin Johnson, owner of Sacramento’s Oak Park Brewery, founded the National Black Brewers Association (NB2A) in 2022. Founded on the mantra of “bringing culture to the cup,” in less than a year since its inception, the NB2A has made ambitious leaps to recognize and vouch for Black excellence in the U.S. craft brewing industry. The coalition recently teamed up with Marcus Bakersville — co-owner and head brewer of Weathered Souls Brewing Co. — to put out Black is Beautiful Vol. 2, which sees $1 from every sale donated to NB2A to fund its pursuit of racial and social justice in the brewing industry. The group is also working tirelessly to establish October 10 as National Black Brewers Day, paying homage to the date that Ted Mac Sr., the first Black person to own a brewery in the United States, opened People’s Brewing Co. in 1970. With 16 jurisdictions on board so far, the NB2A is hoping to obtain federal designation by next year.
Today on “Taplines,” Dave Infante is joined by Kevin Asato, the three-decade beverage industry veteran and executive director for NB2A to talk about the newly formed trade association’s historic debut at the 2023 Craft Brewers Conference. The two also discuss the unique challenges NB2A constituents face in the brewing industry and how the organization hopes to tackle these challenges. Tune in for more.