Six Black-owned beer breweries have teamed up for a six-week residency program in Chicago. The residency will run through the beginning of March and is a unique opportunity for the breweries to support each other and collaborate on marketing projects, among other things.
The six breweries collaborated on a new beer that was launched on Feb. 13 — Super Bowl Sunday.
That beer, Chicago Uncommon, pays homage to the Chicago common brick, used to reconstruct a stronger, more durable city after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
“We’re using the Chicago Uncommon to rebuild the narrative of what people think craft beer looks like,” said brewer Jay Westbrook, who owns the beer brand Black Beer Baron. Westbrook came up with the idea for the residency.
Jamhal Johnson, co-owner of Moor’s Brewing, calls the residency “revolutionary.” Being able to lean on one another means a lot, Johnson told The Chicago Sun-Times. His Moor’s Brewing opened in the Windy City on Juneteenth 2021.
“It’s very hard, right? When you don’t see anyone that looks like you … I think you kind of get discouraged,” said Johnson.
Less than 1 percent of breweries in the U.S. are Black-owned, according to a 2020 study by the Brewers Association.
“We’re looking to be more diverse and bring more people into the space and grow the space, not just here in Chicago, but nationwide.”
Moor’s Brewing beers are available in 130 retail locations.
Besides Moor’s, there are three other Black-owned breweries in Chicago — Funkytown Brewery, Black Horizon Brewing, and Turner Haus Brewery — and two other Black-owned beer brands — Black Beer Baron, by brewer Westbrook, and The Brother at the Bar, by Sam Ross, The Chicago Sun-Times reported. Not all of the businesses have brick-and-mortar locations.
“I found that the easiest way to get someone to listen to you is to put a proper beverage in their hand,” Westbrook said.
“This came out of my goal of shining a light on the lack of diversity and inclusion, not only Chicago’s craft beer scene, but the craft beer community as a whole,” he added. “We had this glorious idea to come together and give all of these Black brewers in Chicago a platform to tell their own story.”
“The craft beer industry and microbreweries have not necessarily been a space that African Americans have had a presence in,” Steve Turner, co-founder of Turner Haus, said. “So I’m really excited about being able to present to our community at large something that will resonate with African Americans, in terms of where they spend their dollars.”