New Progress In Diversifying Beer: The National Black Brewers Association & Atlanta Breweries Paving The Way

Learn about NB2A’s mission, some remarkable Black-owned breweries, and Jen Price building community through Crafted for Action.

Industry Friends
Black Is Beautiful volume 2

Outstanding news for the beer industry: The National Black Brewers Association (NB2A) has launched! The industry is sorely lacking diversity—of the 10k craft brewers in the US, only 1% are Black—and this first-of-its-kind non-profit signals a historical turning point for people of color in beer. 

Keep reading to learn about NB2A’s mission, some of the remarkable Black-owned breweries making space for inclusion, and resources to help your own business support Black brewers. 

The National Black Brewers Association Supports Black Entrepreneurs In Beer

Good Beer Hunting perfectly captures the significance of the new precedent NB2A sets: “Racial inequality is ingrained in the U.S. economy, but the formation of the NB2A is the first time that a coalition of prominent leaders have come together to specifically improve the future for Black entrepreneurs in beer. Other beer trade groups have sought to increase diversity among their ranks, but this group marks the first time such an effort has come from Black brewers themselves.”

Not only is the NB2A a first for the Black community in beer, but it’s the first in the craft beverage industry at all: A trade organization doesn’t exist for Black producers in the spirits or wine industries. Hopefully, the NB2A inspires the creation of more of these organizations.

Here are the NB2A’s 4 commitments:

  • Promoting the Black brewing community
  • Increasing the number of Black individuals in the brewing industry at all levels of production, especially ownership and brew-masters
  • Exercising influence by developing and advocating for effective policies
  • Fostering historical context, and legacy surrounding African American influence on brewing in the US

They plan to accomplish this through knowledge sharing, recruiting Black professionals into the industry, and promoting the history and legacy of African American brewing in the U.S. 

Backing the NB2A board with excited, experienced, and eager-for-change leaders also solidifies their plan for action and success. 

“It’s an honor to serve as a board member for the National Black Brewers Association and to use the entrepreneurial spirit and the production of innovative craft beer as a vehicle of socioeconomic change,” says Jon Renthrope, the CEO of Cajun Fire Brewing Company. “Together, we can promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the beer industry and beyond.” 

Cheers to that, Jon!

Atlanta Brewers Spotlight: Intertwining Art, History, & Soul

Another way to encourage more Black entrepreneurs in brewing? Show them how it’s done! Atlanta, Georgia is a growing hotspot for Black-owned breweries. 

“The craft beer landscape here is young as compared to other cities,” shares Jen Price, a beer educator and author as well as the Founder of Crafted For Action. She continues about Atlanta: “But with youth comes the opportunity for growth and creativity. That is especially the case with the Black beer experience in Atlanta. Here, it intertwines the artistry of brewing with diversity, historical context, and soul. It represents collaboration, innovation, and Black excellence.”

Let’s check out the 3 breweries Jen deems essential to the Atlanta Craft Beer Experience!

Hippin’ Hops Brewery

Now with 2 locations on the Eastside, Hippin’ Hops Brewery was Atlanta’s first Black-owned brick and mortar brewery taproom. Started by a husband-wife team, both the original taproom and the Brewstillery buzz with energy, coziness, and community. 

Their beverage and food menus capture can’t-get-anywhere-else flavors. The Baby Mama Drama IPA and So Peachy peach cobbler sour act as mainstays on tap, but you can always count on finding a new brew, too. Hippin’ Hops’ East Atlanta Village location serves up seafood with a New Orleans twist—our eyes (and taste buds) are on the Alligator Po’Boy with house-made remoulade.

The hip(pin’) hop is always fresh, too: Music from local DJs is a highlight in the beer garden.

Atlantucky Brewing

Nappy Roots, the Grammy-nominated rap group, founded Atlantucky Brewing and created a space where beer, art, and music are all shared. 

Upon entering Atlantucky, you’re met with an atmosphere that’s “unapologetically Black”—Afrocentric art decorates the walls and their programming calendar is “a true representation of its proximity to so many iconic Atlanta destinations.”

The beer list at Atlantucky is inherently experimental with styles ranging from German-style pilsners to wheat beers and IPAs. The full on-site kitchen is experimental too: Atlantucky invites a rotating list of local food vendors and the kitchen serves as an incubator for start-up culinary businesses. 

Besides a great meal and the memories, you can also take home merchandise from their “Beer is Black History” collection, courtesy of local beer and lifestyle brand Draught Season. 

Atlantucky founders, Scales (left) and Skinny DeVille (right) with Crafted for Action founder, Jen Price (second from the left), at the Crafted For Action conference in Atlanta, June 2023.

Down Home Brewing

Another Atlanta staple is Down Home Brewing, which is the city’s first brewery to produce, sell, and distribute craft beer. Their brews are available at an impressive number of retailers throughout Atlanta, and they hope to have a brick and mortar location soon. 

A family-owned and operated business, Down Home features an illustration of Hershel Thompson on each of their cans, who is the grandfather of Founder Chris Reeves. Herschel was a huge inspiration to Chris growing up, and Down Home honors his memory and will serve as a legacy for the family’s future generations. 

Down Home’s retail portfolio includes 3 flagship beers: Georgia Hooch IPA, Down Right Hazy IPA, and T-Pom Pomegranate Wheat. No matter your thirst cravings—citrusy, creamy, or tart and crisp—one of their flagships will quench it!

How Your Business Can Support Diversity In Beer

The Black community is gaining momentum in beer, and it’s only accelerating. Here are a couple cool initiatives your business can support. 

The Black Brewers Podcast Promotes Diversity In Minnesota Taprooms

What started as 3 friends geeking out about craft beer has turned into a successfully growing podcast that encourages people of color to enter the craft industry—both as workers and guests. 

The Black Brewers Podcast talks about beer from a Black perspective and includes any events or music that are relevant to their community. Whereas the Black-owned breweries in Atlanta actively mentor Black entrepreneurs, the podcast aims to inspire more Black folk to be guests in these spaces. 

“It’s important for us to change the narrative of these spaces,” says Greg Davenport, one of the 3 hosts. “You don’t know until you go that there are people who look like you that are in these spaces as well.” 

There’s a clear opportunity to increase diversity in beer drinkers: Black Americans represent 4% of craft beer drinkers, as compared to representing 13% of the country’s general population. 

Now a year and 3 seasons into their podcast, the Black Brewers Podcast is passionate about reclaiming the art of brewing that their ancestors started

“The older I get, the more I realize that I think my purpose is to do shit that Black people don’t normally do,” says Phillip Owns. “I’m going to lean in more when people tell me I can’t do something.”

Way to lead the way, Greg, Phillip, and Anthony! You can find all of their episodes for free online

Weathered Souls Announces Black Is Beautiful Volume 2

Weathered Souls Brewing Co. launched the collaborative initiative Black is Beautiful in 2020 to support equality and social justice reform, and successfully influenced the beer industry for the long term. Now, they’re gearing up for Round 2

100% of Volume 2’s proceeds will benefit the National Black Brewers Association. And with the success of their last go-around—global recognition, uniting breweries across all 50 states, and raising over $5 million—Volume 2 is sure to positively impact NB2A and the Black community.

If your brewery is interested in participating, you can create and sell your own version of the “Black is Beautiful” stout recipe!

Interested in learning about other Black trailblazers in the industry? Meet Hannah Ferguson: a wine and cider maker, positivity spreader, and owner of the first Black and female-owned cidery in Ohio.

Ready for a better POS?