A couple of Phoenix-area breweries recently announced they'll be participating in the Black Is Beautiful Collaborative project.
Black Is Beautiful is an attempt to raise awareness among brewers and beer drinkers on social justice issues faced by people of color. Roughly 650 breweries in 14 different countries across the United States have joined in so far.
The project was organized by Marcus Baskerville of Weathered Souls Brewing Co. in San Antonio. Weathered Souls has shared the recipe of a dark imperial stout with breweries across the country. Individual breweries are free to sell their own version of it, as long as the branding and name (Black is Beautiful) is kept, and 100 percent of the proceeds go to charity foundations or organizations supporting police reform, legal defenses, or an equality-supporting entity.
Chip Mulala, director of sales and marketing at Huss Brewing Company, says owners Jeff and Leah Huss approached him about what they could do to be more proactive on racial issues.
"As a black man, I was asked, after the recent issues in our country, about what should be done," Mulala says.
In the past, the brewery has led efforts to raise funds for community project, most recently for first-responders. This spring, as the pandemic took hold, the brewery gave away 500 six-packs to personnel like firefighters, police officers, nurses, medical professionals, and hospitality workers.
But while Mulala says Huss tries to be dedicated to all members of the community, he says it's also true that, "Sometimes different people of the community are hurting more than others."
For Huss' contribution to Black Is Beautiful, Mulala created a stout that should appeal to a Phoenician's palate. "Stouts are typically deep, dark, black in color, and chocolatey," he says. Huss's is a summer stout, dark in color, but light in taste. "The idea is to keep the stout refreshing," he says.
Huss Brewing Co. plans to release the beer July 4 weekend, and donate the earnings to Until Freedom, an intersectional social justice organization focusing on systematic injustices impacting people of color.
Four Peaks Brewing Company's Black Is Beautiful brew is going to be a "barrel-aged, cherry porter, " says Zach Fowle, communications manager at Four Peaks. It will have an overall roasted taste, with chocolate and coffee flavors, some bourbon characteristics, and notes of vanilla and coconut.
"It is a pretty big, rich beer and comes over with 11 percent alcohol," Fowle says.
The brew will be available on Friday, June 26, at the 8th Street location in Tempe. Proceeds will benefit Greater Phoenix Urban League, which aids disadvantaged groups by securing housing and work placement in an effort to foster social and economic equality.
Fowle says this is the first step in a larger initiative for the business as a whole. Four Peaks plans to continue investing in diversity training for staff members, seeking more diverse candidates for the team, and forging relationships with black-owned businesses.
"This is going to have to be an ongoing project," says Fowle. "We don't want for this to be a one-time thing and people forget about it."
Back at Huss Brewing Co., Mulala agrees.
"We can take this social-networking thing called beer and use it to spark conversation," he says.
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