Brewing and Fermentation in Ancient Civilizations: The History (and Future) of BIWOC in Beer

Craft Brewers Conference 2022
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Speakers: Celeste Beatty, Esthela Davila, Ashlie Randolph, Shyla Sheppard, Tranice Watts

From being the mother of civilization (Lucy), to participation in the rich origins of brewing and fermentation, to our future in the brewing industry—Black, Indigenous and other Women of Color (BIWOC) have and will always make valuable contributions to beer culture and development. The undeniable truth is that BIWOC have always held a sacred space in fermentation. However, in today’s current climate, this fact remains hidden in plain sight. Being truly seen in an environment and community that has become your life’s work is vital for so many of us. Unfortunately, women from these communities may encounter certain “barriers to entry” in the brewing industry and community, deterring those who have priceless firsthand knowledge, constructive strategies to take on industry-wide areas for growth, and inspirational narratives. Such barriers keep us all from learning from these worthy educators and ultimately diminishes the expansion in rich talent and innovation. Challenging such barriers, even just a little bit, for women of color who have a love for craft beer and are making a mark within our society is essential to supporting those looking to affect long-lasting and impactful evolution within businesses, local communities, and the industry as a whole.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understanding cultures that may differ from our own to re-envision the culture of the craft beer industry
  • Why authentic representation matters
  • Recognizing barriers to entry for BIWOC within the industry (and ways to remove those barriers and foster inclusion in your hiring and recruiting practices)
  • Significance of culturally-rooted brewing traditions
  • A Day in the Life: The BIWOC consumer experience
  • Exploring traditional vs. non-traditional platforms for cultural education and appreciation
  • Engagement through opportunities for collaborations and consultancy
  • Avoiding the Charity Case Pitfall (decision making and charitable giving; being intentional with the causes, philanthropies, and community groups you support)
  • How to lift BIWOC within the community and industry (investing in BIWOC and being an effective ally)​

About the Speakers

Celeste Beatty

Celeste Beatty, Brewer and Founder

Harlem Brew

Celeste Beatty is the Brewer and Founder of Harlem Brewing in New York and North Carolina. By following her truth—she calls it Brewing it Forward—Celeste has tapped into her passion for creating beers that infuse flavor, passion, and pride. She has used her influence to help open doors for a new generation of brewers and independent beer distributors. She launched Harlem Brewing Company in 2000, inspired by her love of the craft and the Harlem community. She became the first African American woman brewer to launch a commercially distributed beer, and later went on to sell her beers in Walmart, the largest food and beverage company in the world.

She introduced her Harlem "Sugar Hill" Golden Ale, a nod to its famous neighborhood namesake, in 2001 and has since launched several Neighborhood Original recipes, including her award winning Harlem Renaissance Wit, Harlem 125th Street IPA, and a hard cider–Harlem Strawberry Hill. In 2018, she launched Harlem Brew South in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Today, her beers have been widely distributed throughout New York City, along the east coast, as well as in Japan and the United Kingdom. Celeste and her beers have received many awards including Entrepreneur of the Year from the Harlem Business Alliance, Best Brew NYC, Best Amber Ale at the Beer and Bacon Fest, the Emerging Entrepreneur Award from the Clinton Foundation, and the Local Hero Award from the Association of Resident Theaters.

Celeste has garnered international media coverage with features on TripAdvisor, Reuters, The Root, NBC, Fox News, MSNBC, Forbes, and People magazine. When she's not testing out new home rew recipes, you might find her in a garden training up hops or sharing a tasty Harlem brew!

Esthela Davila

Esthela Davila, Co-Founder

Mujeres Brew House/Border X Brewing

Esthela Davila is San Diego born and raised. She got her start in beer helping run beer festivals. She was later approached to join The Indie Beer Show podcast which was a San Diego fixture for over four years. She then went on to help co-found and host Mujeres Brew Club. This club was started to help teach and empower women, specifically women of color, about independent craft beer. When the pandemic hit, the club had to pivot and they were presented with the opportunity to open their own brewery. Mujeres Brew House was born! Mujeres Brew House is the only completely female run brewery in San Diego. The brewery is also in the neighborhood Esthela grew up in, Barrio Logan. She is passionate about helping women in craft beer and infusing her Mexican culture into their beer styles.

Ashlie Randolph

Ashlie Randolph, Founder

Brawta Craft and Brews

Las Vegan Ashlie Niquel Randolph is a founding member of Mo' Betta Brews, a minority focused beer centric social club created to provide an inclusive space for craft beer enthusiasts of color rooted in brews and beats full of flavor, soul, and craft. Seeing beer as anthropology in a glass, Ashlie is passionate about exploring craft beers throughout the world and incorporating global culinary legacies in her own brews.

Ashlie is the founder of brewery-in-planning, Brawta Brewing. She is also a Duvel USA Brand Ambassador, Pink Boots Society Board Member, Pink Boots Society of Las Vegas Chapter President, NAACP Branch #1111 Executive Committee Member/Community Partner Diversity and Inclusion Committee Chair.

Shyla Sheppard

Shyla Sheppard, Founder & CEO

Bow & Arrow Brewing Co

Shyla Sheppard is the Founder, President, and CEO of Bow & Arrow Brewing Co. (B&A), an almost six-year-old craft brewery, specializing in wild, sour, and Southwest-inspired beers based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with a recently-opened satellite taproom in the Four Corners. Shyla was born and raised on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota, where she is a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara Nation. Growing up, she recalls her Grandmother working in her garden, making their traditional foods and sharing stories of their people. These experiences ingrained in her an appreciation for the bounty of the land, its connection to a way of life and its history. Before starting B&A, she spent nearly a decade as a social impact investor in the Southwest U.S. Shyla graduated with an Economics degree from Stanford University and completed the Impact Investing Executive Program at Oxford University, Said Business School. She currently serves as a board member for United Way of Central New Mexico and the First Nations Development Institute. With a love of funky and sour beers and the Great American Southwest, Shyla enjoys bringing a diverse perspective to the craft beer industry. Features include Outside Magazine, Lonely Planet, Glamour, New Mexico Magazine and Craft Beer & Brewing.

Tranice Watts

Tranice Watts, Co-Owner

Patuxent Brewing Company

Tranice L. Watts is a co-owner for Patuxent Brewing Company, in Waldorf, Maryland. Patuxent Brewing is the first craft brewery within Charles County, and one of the only 100% Black-owned breweries in the state of Maryland. Ms. Watts is also a member of the Greater Maryland Chapter of Pink Boots and the Brewers Association Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee. She currently co-chairs Charles County, Maryland's Economic Development Business Outreach Committee.