Several St. Louis breweries have signed on to a nationwide effort to raise awareness and funds for police brutality reform and legal funds for those affected by police brutality.
Black is Beautiful, an initiative created by Weathered Souls Brewing Co. in San Antonio, Texas, is a beer that will be brewed across the country to raise funds for these organizations. A recipe available for download is designed to be a moderately high ABV imperial stout to celebrate different shades of black.
So far, 635 breweries across all 50 states and 13 countries have signed onto the Black is Beautiful initiative. In the St. Louis area, some of the breweries that have signed on to the project include 2nd Shift Brewing, 4 Hands Brewing Co., Earthbound Beer, Main & Mill Brewing Co., Perennial Artisan Ales, Schlafly Beer, Side Project Brewing and Wellspent Brewing Co.
2nd Shift had been planning a collaboration with Chicago beer blogger Chalonda White, known as Afro Beer Chick, for months, but COVID-19 put an end to their initial plans. Instead, the blogger and brewery teamed up to brew the Black is Beautiful beer. Co-owner Libby Crider says it wasn't a question as to whether 2nd Shift would participate – they just knew they needed to do it.
"Black people in beer has been a huge issue for years," she says. "You kind of have this stereotypical bearded, white male, that is your average craft beer drinker when that is not the stereotype that needs to be projected. Beer is for everybody. Chalonda has been really, really vocal about inclusivity in beer, so when this opportunity came on ... it was just something that we knew we needed to do, to participate and to support."
2nd Shift will be making the beer according to Weathered Souls' recipe, and it should debut in early July. Proceeds will go to Black Lives Matter and to Arch City Defenders.
Earthbound Beer has teamed up with Justin Harris of Saint Louis Hop Shop to come up with their particular version of the Black is Beautiful brew. While their version of the imperial stout will be similar, it will feature notes of vanilla bean and coffee from Northwest Coffee Roasters, another Black-owned business in St. Louis. Some of it will also be barrel-aged. Co-owner and head brewer Stuart Keating says that Earthbound has always been committed to the Black Lives Matter movement, so when the initiative was suggested to them on Twitter, they jumped on board.
The team at Earthbound and Harris agreed to donate all proceeds to the Close the Workhouse campaign, which is working to close a medium-security prison in St. Louis known as The Workhouse. The prison is often used to house people who have not been convicted of a crime but are unable to make bail, which disproportionately affects Black people, and conditions are considered inhumane.
"We wanted to focus on a cause that is very specific, and something that doesn't draw a lot of mainstream funding," Keating says. "It's something that will materially impact the lives of people in St. Louis for the better."
And, of course, Keating wants to make sure the message of the initiative stays strong.
"Black lives matter. Black trans lives matter. None of us are free until all of us are free," he says.
Editor's note: This post has been updated to add Schlafly Beer to the participating breweries.
Black is Beautiful, blackisbeautiful.beer