February is Black History Month and March is Women’s History Month; here we have an opportunity to highlight the intersection of the two. Eamoni Collier, Founder/CEO of Urban Garden Brewing (UGB), is a native Washingtonian who continues to make history as a trailblazer for women of color in beer. Urban Garden Brewing brings us beers inspired by the ancient practices of Egyptian women. Unique blends and quality and natural ingredients are not only thoughtfully crafted and incorporated into UGB’s products, but also in the experience that Eamoni and her team craft for patrons. I think it’s this level of artisanship and attention to detail that enables them to produce beers like Chamolite, a smooth, refreshing ale with notes of honey and chamomile, and their latest release, Roses Aren’t Dead, a pale ale with rose hips and rose petals.
Urban Garden does not pride itself solely on brewing, but also a mission of serving and educating the DMV community. UGB is not just a beer brand but a Black woman-owned and led company that has broken barriers in business and earned a seat at the table within the food and beverage community. They also distribute beer, thus far with a partnership with Crown and Hops “a Black-, Woman-, and Veteran-owned beer brand and brewery in Inglewood, CA dedicated to preserving culture and building community through world class beer.”
The accomplishments and strides made at Urban Garden are just a product of the organic vibes and energy they exude. An example of this is how she led the group of Black Brewers at the Black Brew Movement, Craft Beer Cellar, Black Brewers Tasting event at Metrobar DC in positive affirmations. This is also how they are able to collaborate with breweries in and around the DMV, most recently with City-State Brewing Company. Listeners and regulars of DC Beer may be familiar but for those that aren’t or would like to learn more, check out the Feb. 17, 2023, ‘Breaking Beer News with Urban Garden!’ episode of the DC Beer Show.
UGB is collaborating with City-State not just on beer, but on the space to make it. The Founder/CEO of City-State, James Warner, teamed up with Eamoni and UGB to provide a dedicated fermenter for UGB. This allows Urban Garden to keep up with the demand for their products, introduce new ones, and brew at will at City-State. This shift for Urban Garden enables them to move away from traditional contract brewing and focus on growing their brand. As far as we–DC Beer staff–know, this is the first time a contract brewing company has collaborated with a brick and mortar and then ended up partnering with them. That a Black woman helped make this happen is doubly impressive.
I asked Eamoni a few questions about the collaboration:
Jordan: How many cases of Roses Aren’t Dead Pale Ale were produced?
Eamoni: We produced 20 barrels, split between 185 cases, and nine 1.6 kegs. We incorporated 10 pounds of rose petals into the mash and followed it up with the addition of approximately 20 pounds of rosehips during the whirlpool phase. The rose flavor contributed to the subtle bitter taste. The beer is seductively crushable!
Jordan: With the previous anniversary collab with City-State for Solar Return, was it destined for your guys to eventually create a long-standing partnership?
Eamoni: We had discussions before collaborating on the Solar Return beer, which served as a test to gauge our compatibility. The beer was well-received and a testament to our successful partnership. Through this collaboration, we developed a sense of trust and learned a lot from each other, as our styles complement each other.
Jordan: For those that might be new to Urban Garden, what would you say your vision is for UGB and how has it changed as you’ve grown?
Eamoni: My aim with Urban Garden Brewing was to create a brand that’s rooted in our local community and challenges the existing perception of craft beer. It’s still surprising to some people when I tell them that I’m the owner, but that’s precisely why I started this business. The lack of diversity in the industry makes it difficult for people to envision a young Black woman as the owner of a brewing company. As someone who grew up in this area, I strongly believe that our community deserves more beer brands that truly represent the authentic DC experience aka “Chocolate City.”
Jordan: How can the DMV support you all as you continue to grow and tackle new opportunities?
Eamoni: To show your support for Urban Garden, you can reach out to your favorite bars and beer stores to request our brand. It would also be great if you could share the word with your friends and family. For those who aren’t big beer drinkers, we have a streetwear line coming soon that you can support. Additionally, you can join us at some of our events to soak up the vibe and be part of the community.
Jordan: Sticking with the history you’ve made: What advice or tips would you pass on to other women in beer? This can be for brewery specific folks, industry folks in general.
Eamoni: My advice to other women is to wholeheartedly reject any notions of misogyny, racism, or stereotypes that may come your way. It’s important to remain true to yourself and embrace your unique identity. However, it’s important to remember that in this industry, you’ll need to develop a thick skin. I’ve shed countless tears, but at the end of the day, you are in control of your own reality.
I’d also like to encourage women to be open to asking for help when needed and to know when it’s time to take a break to prevent burnout. Remember, taking care of your mental and physical health is just as important as the work you do.
Jordan: Any special shoutouts to people on your team?
Eamoni: I want to give a huge shout-out to my amazing UGB team, starting with Stephon Green who helped me during the initial launch by handling all things tech. Lindsay Castillo, our brand manager, has been my right-hand person and I couldn’t have done it without her. I’d also like to thank Inspire DMV for their continued support in connecting us to invaluable resources. I am truly grateful for all of them, as they have played a significant role in the success of Urban Garden.
Jordan: Understanding the beer industry is very challenging, you’ve been able to overcome licensing, creating a space to produce your beers, what’s next on the horizon?
Eamoni: We have some exciting plans, but we prefer to keep them under wraps and surprise everyone. 😉 We love keeping our supporters on the edge of their seats. I will say I’m excited to drop 3 or 4 new brand collaborations this year!
Urban Garden is truly bridging the gap between craft beer, community, and urban culture, one delightful sip at a time. You can find their beers at 1921 Biergarten, Calvert Woodley, City-State, Craft Beer Cellar, Dacha, Each Peach Market, Emmy Squared, Franklin Hall, Free State, Hook Hall, Lost and Found, metrobar, Pizzeria Paradiso Dupont, Right Proper Shaw Brewpub, and Schneider’s of Capitol Hill. Ask you local to carry UGB, too, please. And if you’re in Chicago and reading this, you’re in luck! UGB is there, too! But there’s nothing like drinking at the source; go see them at City-State, and kudos to Eamoni and James for making this happen!