Black Brew Movement is a collective of four young black professionals who are working to make the metropolitan DC beer community stronger. The founders, Phil Jackson, Simone Cope, Courtney Brown, and Charles Rominiyi, all share a love for craft beer and a passion for driving diversity within the industry through education, events, and exposure.
How did Black Brew Movement start?
Simone: We all noticed a bit of an absence in the craft beer industry and realized we had some similar ideas. We formally came together in January and came up with the name Black Brew Movement because that’s exactly what we are. A group of young black individuals who would love to see more people who look like us in craft beer spaces, whether at the brewer or consumer level.
DC Beer: Who do you see as leaders in the beer movement (locally, nationally, or even internationally)?
Courtney: Garrett Oliver, hands down. He has been a major influence in everything I’ve learned about in the craft beer industry so far. He has provided so many resources/tools, from dictionaries to YouTube videos to help people get involved in the beer movement. He breaks down the details of beer making and the consumption of a good brew in a way that is welcoming and exciting. He is also very involved in the community and getting to know people. He attends festivals and tries to be apart of every aspect of the craft beer community.
Simone: The organizers of Fresh Fest are doing something we are very excited about! This will be our first year attending, but we are happy to see Black brewers and vendors featured on this scale.
DC Beer: Many of your social media posts focus on beer and food. What are some of your favorite pairings and why?
Simone: That’s something we like to highlight since many people have a brew while they eat. My favorite is a blue cheeseburger and a Pilsner.
Courtney: Seafood goes with pretty much anything, but lagers and seafood is probably my favorite pairing to date.
Charles: Belgian Wheat and Buffalo wings is God’s gift to human beings!
DC Beer: Do any of you have a “gateway” beer that led you down the path to better and more varied styles of beer?
Courtney: I honestly don’t remember the beer, but I do remember my gateway experience was at Bangers in Austin, Texas. I tried about 10 beers from their wall and after that I was hooked!
Charles: Allagash White.
Phil: Port City Optimal Wit. It was so light and refreshing yet full of flavor. I had to dive deeper.
Simone: I visited a beer garden with a friend, and she and her boyfriend just ordered me beers. I had some I loved and some I didn’t, but it was a great eye opening experience.
DC Beer: What makes you most excited in the beer world these days?
Courtney: The opportunity to learn about something new. We recently volunteered at the Virginia Beer Cup and were exposed to a new element of the beer world. There are so many different parts and it is just exciting to watch how the industry emerges.
Phil: I love how more people are participating in the culture and expanding their beer horizons.
Charles: Definitely the opportunity for growth, whether it be economically, socially, or personally. The craft beer world is providing opportunities for development and growth across the country. I am excited to continue to get the message out to African-American communities.
Simone: I am loving that brewers are challenging the idea of what a beer is “supposed to be” and taking risks with flavors. It makes it nearly impossible for someone to say “I can’t find a beer I like.”
DC Beer: Do you drink, cider, wines, and spirits? What are some standouts if so?
Courtney: Yes! I love all of the above. My favorite cider is by Stella Artois and I’m a tequila girl.
Simone: Blood Orange cider by Austin Eastciders is my favorite!
DC Beer: We see that you do a weekly vocabulary feature on Instagram. What inspired this and what do you hope to accomplish with it?
Simone: Our vocabulary posts are to educate; many of our followers are novices and may not know much of the terminology that is used when referring to beer. It helps them formulate questions and engage in discussions pertaining to beer.
Charles: The vocabulary also helps educate us; as the creators of this movement, we want to be as knowledgeable as possible.
DC Beer: Tell us about Black Hoppy Hour. What is the idea about, how did it materialize, and are the events successful?
Charles: Black Hoppy Hour is an opportunity for Black Brew Movement to create space for African Americans to experience craft beer culture — find their style in beer, discuss experiences, and strategize ways to diversify the industry.
Simone: We were having a discussion, coming up with events to engage our supporters and just tossed some names around. We like puns and thought a Black Hoppy Hour was equally descriptive and catchy
DC Beer: What breweries do you think are doing a good job of being inclusive, equitable, and overall provide stellar examples for beer’s future?
Simone: I wouldn’t say any one particular brewery sets the example for all, however those breweries in diverse areas seem to draw in diverse consumers and employees. Particularly, brewers in New York seem to understand that inclusion benefits everyone.