It is with great honor and pride we announce Jamaal Lemon as the 2023 James Beard Foundation Media Award winner for the Foodways Category. The award “Recognizes the importance of culture and history in food journalism. Entries in this category explore the connection between what we eat and who we are, with an emphasis on reporting.”
In 2016, Jamaal and Myron “Shep” Jenkins beat out thousands of competitors for the World of Beer’s “Drink it Internship” and they traveled around the world to drink beer and promote World of Beer events on social media. The duo was also responsible for The Wayfarer Study, a travel blog. Jamaal continued building his beer resume locally and you may have seen him pouring, drinking, or chatting about beer in town at Atlas Brew Works, the DC Homebrewers Club, or in Baltimore at Mobtown or Suspended Brewing. Here’s a great bit of writing from KJ Kearney, someone I couldn’t respect more who’s known Jamaal for far longer than I have.
Jamaal’s most recent award winning piece, “Come Hell or High Water — Oysters, Brewing, and How the Come Yahs & Bin Yahs Could End Sea Level Rise in Charleston,” is a wonderful blend of personal history, culture, and reporting. And of course I’m biased as I helped him with researching, interviewing, and asking countless probing questions as we assembled this piece. We spent many many hours texting, on phone calls, on zoom calls, reading, drafting, writing, and editing.
This was not my first time working collaboratively with Jamaal. Not even the first piece we’d worked on together that was nominated for an award. In 2022, Jamaal’s piece, “Tek Cyear uh de Root, Part One — The Schützenfest, Black Endurance, and Beer Culture in Old South Charleston” “Tek Cyear uh de Root, Part Two — The Deliberate Reconstruction of the Charleston Schützenfest” “Tek Cyear uh de Root, Part Three — The Lost Potential of Charleston Beer” were nominated in the feature reporting category. While the piece didn’t win last year, there were honors bestowed upon another writer with ties to the District who chronicled an incredible life of a brewer, a Black woman from the early 19th Century in the Profile Category.
To my knowledge, Jamaal’s win is the first for a talent who cut his teeth in the DC beer industry. He spent time working at breweries in DC and Baltimore. Lately Jamaal has led social initiatives aimed at promoting conversations related to diversity and inclusivity via beer collaborations with Edmunds Oast, Good Beer Hunting, and Saint Joseph’s University and the Barrel and Flow Beer Festival in Pittsburgh, PA.
Theresa McCulla, PhD Curator, American Brewing History Initiative
Division of Work and Industry National Museum of American History Smithsonian Institution, won for her piece, “Patsy Young — American Brewer, Fugitive From Slavery” which you can read here. Also of great excitement to those familiar with Theresa’s work is her forthcoming book. It took her 10 years to write, but it seems we will get a chance to celebrate her work with her in the not too distant future.
After the Beard Foundation media awards came the Chef and Restaurant Award Winners. These are also relevant to our interests at DC Beer Media. The award for Outstanding Chef went to Rob Rubba of Oyster Oyster in our beloved metropolis.
Even more relevant to you, dear reader, is that Black Narrows Brewing Company, recently featured on our podcast, has teamed up with Rob Rubba to make a saison for Oyster Oyster. According to brewer/owner/corn planter/PR-man-for-the-company Josh Chapman, “I think it’s the best saison I’ve ever made,” which is saying a lot as Chapman has been brewing saison for the better part of a decade. He’s even made saison with spicebush berries during his time as head brewer at Bluejacket in 2015.
The Oyster Oyster collaboration beer is called “Boojum Sleeping.” According to Black Narrows and Oyster Oyster:
Brewed with 100% Virginia-grown and malted grain, Boojum Sleeping, a locally-sourced new Saison is a unlikely collab between DC-based MICHELIN-starred restaurant Oyster Oyster/Chef Rob Rubba (a ’23 James Beard Foundation Finalist and ’22 Food & Wine BNC) and the first craft brewery on Virginia’s Chincoteague Island, Black Narrows.
Warm and citrus spice lead on the nose due to branches foraged from the native & indigenous North American Spiced Bush Berry, followed by aromas of fresh sugar cookies and white pepper- this summer sipper is also made with house yeast that was captured off a Chincoteague Oyster- a mineral kiss from the Eastern Shore.
Draft Only, to cut down on carbon footprint and waste! Available at Oyster Oyster DC.
The beer should be available whenever you’re lucky enough to get to Oyster Oyster. But as always, call before going if you want to make sure the beer is there. It will be incredibly cool to have a beer from a Good Food Award winning brewery at a restaurant whose owner is an Outstanding Chef award winner.
Congratulations to Jamaal Lemon, Theresa McCulla, and Rob Rubba. We look forward to continuing to wish you all success in all your endeavors.