Within 24 hours of announcing the Black is Beautiful collaboration beer on Monday, Weathered Souls Brewing co-founder and head brewer Marcus J. Baskerville heard from nearly 100 craft breweries who wanted to participate.
“We’ve had a decent amount of reception,” Baskerville told Brewbound on Tuesday. “We’ve had some pretty big names already reach out to us that want to participate.”
Black is Beautiful is a collaborative initiative spearheaded by the San Antonio, Texas-based craft brewery “to bring awareness to the injustices that many people of color face daily,” according to the brewery’s website.
Participating breweries can sign up on the Black is Beautiful online portal. They are asked to brew Black is Beautiful, an imperial stout, use the same label design and donate proceeds to organizations in their communities that support police brutality reform or legal defense funds.
Baskerville said he was inspired to brew Black is Beautiful after protests against police brutality spread across the country after the May 25 killing of George Floyd, a black man who was suffocated by now-fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
On Wednesday, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison raised the charges against Chauvin to second-degree murder and charges are also expected against three other officers for their roles in the incident.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is increasing charges against Derek Chauvin to 2nd degree in George Floyd’s murder and also charging other 3 officers. This is another important step for justice.
— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) June 3, 2020
“I was trying to think of a way to give my support as a black business owner,” Baskerville said. “As a black brewer, how could I show my support for the current situation that’s going on without jeopardizing my business in any type of way, but also not jeopardizing myself as a black man either?”
Baskerville didn’t join the protest in San Antonio, but he wanted to contribute to the movement in another way.
“It kind of weighed on me that I didn’t participate, but again, I’m a business owner, I have children and I have a wife,” Baskerville said. “I don’t really want to put myself in situations where it might jeopardize my safety at all, so I’m kind of disappointed I didn’t participate. So this is my way of putting my best foot forward and showing solidarity.”
At first, Black is Beautiful stout was going to be a Weathered Souls release, but a conversation with fellow brewery owner Jeffrey Stuffings of Austin-based Jester King encouraged Baskerville to expand his reach and make the recipe and label available to other breweries.
As of Wednesday, 160 breweries have signed on, Baskerville said.
The craft beer industry is quite familiar with nationwide cause-driven collaborations. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of bars and restaurants and put millions of service industry employees out of work, Brooklyn, New York-based Other Half launched All Together, an IPA whose proceeds the brewery donated to the Restaurant Workers Community Fund. Other Half made the recipe and label artwork available to breweries across the globe and 500 companies participated. Breweries were invited to donate to local hospitality support funds.
After the Camp Fire ravaged Northern California in late 2018, Sierra Nevada created Resilience IPA and asked the 1,500 craft breweries that brewed it to donate all sales to a fund for fire victims.
Black is Beautiful participating breweries are asked to donate to organizations of their own choosing. Although Weathered Souls will donate proceeds from its sales of Black is Beautiful to Know Your Rights Camp, Baskerville said the project’s goal is to raise awareness for the injustices people of color experience in America.
“As much as we want this to be about raising money, the real issue is bringing education and information, which will bring forth change to a system that has fractured so many families and has been broken for decades,” Weathered Souls’ website said.
The beer is designed to be “moderately high ABV stout to showcase the different shades of black,” and participating brewers are invited to riff on the style with adjuncts or aging techniques.
“We ask that you please stand with us to create something that has never been seen before and show the world the brewing community is one of a kind,” the website said.
Kevin Dyer, who has designed Weathered Souls’ labels for nearly three years, created the Black is Beautiful label with a space for participating breweries to add their own logos and artwork, though they’re asked to keep the main art intact. Baskerville explained that “Black” is in quotation marks to draw attention to the word and its dual purposes in referring both to the beer itself and the community it supports.
Dyer’s charge was to represent a variety of black skin tones, but gave him full reins over the design.
“I didn’t want to put it to adding people’s faces or shapes,” Dyer said. “In my head right away, I was thinking of those Sherwin Williams paint strips you see when you’re looking at paint, or a color gradation chart, and I laid it out like that first and then I wanted to figure out a way
to tie the colors in.”
Dyer arranged color chips like interlocking puzzle pieces.
“This is showing all their differences, but how they’re all connected,” he said.
The label is designed for 16 oz. cans, but Dyer can adjust the art file for breweries to accommodate other packaging styles.
So far, participating breweries include Jester King, Other Half, Miami, Florida-based J. Wakefield Brewing, Inglewood, California-based Crowns and Hops Brewing, Canton, Massachusetts-based Trillium Brewing and Saint Louis, Missouri-based 2nd Shift Brewing.