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Black is Beautiful: Local Breweries Answer the Call from Weathered Souls

Created by Weathered Souls’ Head brewer and co-owner Marcus Baskerville, Black is Beautiful is a beer that aims to “raise awareness for the injustices people of color face daily and raise funds for police brutality reform and legal defenses for those who have been wronged.”

Marcus Baskerville, second from right, with some familiar faces, via his Instagram page.

According to the Black is Beautiful website, 972 breweries have signed on in all 50 states and 19 countries. Three District breweries are participating: 3 Stars, Bluejacket, and Sankofa, with Sankofa’s beer being brewed in collaboration with Saint’s Row of Rockville, Maryland. Maryland has 17 participating breweries and Virginia has 33 joining.

We reached out to many local breweries and received some interesting responses to how they were participating, what their beer was like, and where they plan to donate proceeds. Elder Pine has blended several barrel aged beers into their Black is Beautiful take. Sankofa and Saints Row made a black lager with Ethiopian coffee and African honey. 3 Stars has added piloncillo sugar and coconut for a unique spin, and Jailbreak Brewing has allocated a portion for barrel aging with plans to release the barrel aged beer next year. Six breweries’ answers follow, transcripts lightly edited for clarity.

Saints Row Brewing’s co-founder/Director of Operations and Head Brewer, Tony Prebula and Sankofa Beer Company co-founder Kofi Meroe

TP: This will be available on draft in our patio and taproom  as well as cans via our online store.

Together with Sankofa Beer we decided proceeds would benefit both the ACLU of MD as well as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

KM: We reached out to Weathered Souls for permission to make some alterations to the recipe. Our take is a Black Lager with hints of coffee and honey.

TP: We have a great friendship with Sankofa and have been working on a recipe for a while now to celebrate the diversity of our backgrounds. We reached out to Weathered Souls to see if we could go in a different direction to celebrate the diversity in black beer. So we decided to go with a black lager, fermented with West African honey and conditioned with Ethiopian coffee beans. Subtle, nuanced, delicate and bold.

KM: Customers looking for the beer should visit the Saints Row website to place orders for pick up or grab a pint in their tap room in Rockville, MD. The beer will be available in DC via biermi.com for delivery and pickup.

TP: Cans can be ordered online between 12-4 for a pickup that evening. Draft pours available at our facility M-F 4-8pm and Sat 12-8pm.

We are thrilled to have a chance to work on a project with Sankofa that’s so close to both of our hearts. Stay safe and be good to each other.

KM: We are really excited to be working with Saints Row on this endeavor. We were already in the works on a collaboration with Tony (founder and head brewer of Saints Row) that would highlight and marry the exploration of our backgrounds in West Africa and Guatemala respectively. We put that project on hold to get together for Black Is Beautiful because it was an awesome way to do what we had been discussing for over a year at this point, which is bringing diversity in thought, and the approach to craft beer by catching people’s attention with something different and really tasty! BiB just has a much bigger platform to do this. We plan to pick up our collaboration after this is passed – hopefully we can get it out before the end of the year. 

This will be a very limited release. I expect that we will sell out. 

Elder Pine Brewing & Blending Co. co-founder and President, George Lin

GL: We released our Black is Beautiful beer on July 3rd in kegs (sixtels) and cans for both on-site consumption (outdoor seating only at the brewery) and local/Maryland retail accounts.

We are donating 100% of proceeds to ACLU-MD to aid in the battle against social inequality.

We definitely changed things up for our version of Black is Beautiful. We started by sampling 50 of our oak barrels that are aging various black beers and selected 7 of our favorite barrels to create a very unique blend full of character. Our Blend Ratio is as follows: 

             57% Imperial Stout aged in Rye Whiskey barrels for 17months

             28% Extra Stout aged in neutral oak barrels for 9 months

             15% Baltic Porter aged in neutral oak barrels for 9 months

Expect to find deep, luscious, intense notes of baker’s chocolate, dark caramel, charred oak, vanilla, and bourbon-soaked cherries. Creamy mouthfeel without a cloying sweetness at 8.7% ABV.

Customers can come straight to the brewery to buy cans in 2-Packs and 4-Packs to go, or 6oz and 11oz draft pours. Pickup orders and contactless home delivery within 30 miles of the brewery can be placed online through our website.

We are open for on-site consumption with outdoor seating Tuesday through Sunday with patio, field, and a new seating area under a mature pine forest. Our tables have been spread out to accommodate proper social distancing requirements and are cleaned before and after guests are seated. Food trucks are available most weekends but you are welcome to bring your own food. We are 100% dog friendly!

Meth Gunasinghe, Lead Brewer, 3 Stars Brewing Company

We will be canning the beer the week after next, almost all of it is going to cans, with a little bit of draft for in house sales.

We’ll be donating all proceeds to Black Lives Matter DC.

We tweaked the recipe a touch for our brewhouse, and went with a little lower ABV, so it’s going to be an 8.9% imperial stout, and we added piloncillo sugar and coconut for our own fun spin. 

We definitely will have it available at the brewery, the majority will be sold in house with a small amount going into distro. We are offering contactless curbside pick up and delivery for all of our beers, and you can order ahead online and pick it up here at the brewery! We’ll be posting soon on social media when we’ll be releasing it at the brewery. 

Rob Fink, Lead Brewer, Jailbreak Brewing Company

Our version of Black is Beautiful is planned for release on July 17th (possibly a day or two before then), and it will be available both on draft and in 16 oz. cans. We are also racking a portion of the batch to bourbon barrels. We plan on brewing the base beer again next year and will release it in conjunction with the barrel aged version.

100% of the proceeds from our version of Black is Beautiful will be shared equally between Black Lives Matter DC, an organization which needs no introduction, and Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle Baltimore, an African-American led grassroots think tank that serves to inject radical discourse into three primary focus areas: public policy, advocacy, and community organizing.

In terms of grist composition, we adhered to the rough percentage of grains as broken into the following three categories: base malts, crystal malts, and roasted malts. Instead of just our standard 2-row pale (which comes from Rahr), we also blended in Simpsons Maris Otter and Golden Promise. With respect to crystal malts, we stayed true to the overall bend towards darker crystal, utilizing a blend of Simpsons DRC and Dingemans Special B, with smaller amounts of Weyermann Caramunich I and Crisp 77L in support. When it comes to the roasted component, we used Simpsons Black malt, but not to the same extent as the original recipe suggested. Instead, we substituted quite a bit of Weyermann Carafa III special. We also used 22% Crisp Oat Malt in lieu of the 10% carafoam and 12% flaked oats additions. We fermented this with our house “malty” strain, Imperial House.

Come to the brewery for both draft and cans! We are incredibly proud to be participating in this project.

Greg Engert, Partner and Beer Director, Neighborhood Restaurant Group

We are planning to release Bluejacket’s version of Black is Beautiful in cans at the brewery on Friday, July 17th. We will also be distributing a small amount of this beer in Virginia the following week and you will be able to find it at Planet Wine, Red Apron Mosaic, Rustico Alexandria and Rustico Ballsto,n as well as at a host of retail outlets throughout the state. Of course it will be available at the brewery first, and in larger supply.

Proceeds from the beer will be split evenly between The Bail Project and Innocence Project. We arrived at these two specific organizations by consulting with our friends Chuck “Mistaforty” Pearson and Gary Williams, aka DJ Analyze. We have worked with Chuck and Gary at Snallygaster and on a number of amazing beer events at ChurchKey over the years. They are outstanding proponents of craft beer and the Black community as well as for craft beer in general.

We had a 10% Imperial Sweet Stout fermenting and heading to barrels when the project was launched, so we decided to appropriate that brew for this release. It was smooth and delicious as a base already and we knew that just the right amount of vanilla beans and cocoa nibs would layer in some additional, delicious layers of flavor. We got the cocoa nib aging just right and the brew is showing huge fudgey flavors in the nose and on the palate.

Jessica Walczak, Old Ox Brewery Account Manager

The beer will be on draft and in 12oz crowlers to-go starting on July 17th. Proceeds benefit the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. We stuck to the BiB recipe from Weathered Souls. To ensure 100% of the proceeds go to NAACP Legal Defense Fund, it will only be sold in our Ashburn and Middleburg tasting rooms.

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