Education, storytelling, and opportunity all contribute to the ongoing pursuit of equity. Projects awarded funding through the Brewers Association (BA) Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Mini-Grants Program in 2022’s fourth quarter tell DEI success stories, promote education, and celebrate the diversity of communities across the United States. DEI Mini-Grants were awarded to the This Belongs to Us documentary film, The Food Engineer Podcast, Cheluna Brewing Company’s Sixth-Anniversary Pachanga, and Rocktoberfest in the fourth quarter, finishing off an eventful year of grant-making.
Education through History and Revelry
Rocktoberfest, presented by Harlem Brew South, a satellite extension of New York City’s Harlem Brewing Company, took place on October 15, 2022 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Harlem Brew South Brewery & Taproom is focused on education and equity, aiming to create a space for all members of their community to understand each other, work, and learn.
Rocktoberfest celebrated the living history and diversity of Rocky Mount, showcasing artisans, businesses, and histories like Hall of Fame baseball player Buck Leonard, and storied jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk.
“Rocktoberfest grew out of the desire to focus on creating a platform to highlight the achievements of Black and Brown brewers and the great communities they live in,” said Harlem Brewing Co. and Harlem Brew South owner Celeste Beatty.
Beatty is the first Black woman to own a brewery in the U.S. Like many, she began homebrewing while living in Harlem, a New York City neighborhood known as a cultural focal point for Black artists and visionaries. She opened Harlem Brewing in 2000, creating beers that paid homage to Harlem, like the 125 IPA, named after 125th street, the Manhattan thoroughfare at the center of the Harlem Renaissance. The Studio Museum Harlem, a first with its mission to show works of art from those of African descent, and the famous Apollo Theater sit on this street.
Harlem Brew South opened in 2016. The brewery’s second location also has historically significant roots. The building is a historic tobacco warehouse and the site where Black leaf tobacco workers voted for better work and pay in 1946.
Cheluna Brewing Company’s Sixth Anniversary Pachanga took place October 28-30, 2022 in Aurora, Colorado. The brewery name is a mashup of Chela, a slang word for beer, and luna, the Spanish word for moon. Latino/-a-owned (and first generation Mexican-American owned) Cheluna celebrated six years with a pachanga, which is a Mexican American slang term meaning party. The event focused on attracting Latino/-a visitors by highlighting local musicians and entertainers from Denver and Aurora.
Telling Diverse Stories
The grants also funded two media projects in quarter four: This Belongs to Us, a documentary film in production, and The Food Engineer Podcast, “un podcast dedicado a la exploración de alimentos y bebidas fermentadas” (a Spanish-language podcast dedicated to the exploration of fermented food and beverage).
This Belongs To Us, a film that follows the journey of Black, women beer brewers in the American South, is Atinuke Diver’s first feature-length documentary. Diver, the daughter of Nigerian immigrants and a first-generation American, previously co-directed the documentary short, Quilt Journeys, and co-produced the audio documentary short, Masterpiece.
Diver said a family friend, Banwo Smith, worked for Nigerian breweries, and she knew growing up that beer has origins in Ethiopia and Egypt. But it left her with a question: why does American craft beer culture have such stark racial and ethnic disparities?
It would bring her life full circle in a way, as her maternal grandmother brewed beer. “She brewed, bottled, and sold the traditional West African burukutu in her village and had women who worked for her in her enterprise.”
The documentary “chronicles the history and stories of Black women brewers in the American South and explores their journeys of reclamation and revival as they navigate the predominantly white, male-dominated landscape of beer in the United States,” says Diver.
Produced by Christian Mercado, The Food Engineer Podcast’s goal is to promote food science, recipe development and fermented foods literacy. It is a Spanish-language production with the aim of democratizing scientific knowledge for the common good. The podcast launched in June 2021 and over 40 episodes have been produced. It has covered a wide range of topics with several Spanish-speaking members of the craft brewing community appearing on the podcast.
“With the U.S. population becoming increasingly diverse and Hispanics being the largest minority group, Spanish-language content is becoming increasingly important,” said Mercado.
The Food Engineer is a road show that tells the stories of those around the country who work with fermentation. The mini-grant specifically helps fund a video episode in Spanish showcasing the role of Hispanic brewers as role models for aspiring brewers.
DEI Mini-Gants: A Positive Year In Review
The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Mini-Grant program ended 2022 with 24 total grants awarded for 18 events, four media projects, and two education and training initiatives, totaling over $70,000.
“Since the DEI Mini-Grant program was reinstated after a hiatus due to COVID-19, the Philanthropy and Outreach Subcommittee has been thoughtfully working to expand the impact of the program. Two relatively recent decisions—to award more grants at smaller amounts and to award grants for more types of projects—paid dividends in 2022,” said Alana Koenig-Busey, Brewers Association DEI Project Coordinator. “The BA was able to support a broader variety of efforts across the country and we’re excited to carry that momentum into 2023.”
For a full list of 2022 grant recipients, as well as recipients from previous years, visit the Brewers Association website. More information about the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Mini-Grants Program, including the 2023 DEI Mini-Grant program guidelines, can also be found at BrewersAssociation.org.