Breweries across the country are taking part in a unique campaign called Black is Beautiful, dedicated to showing that the brewing community is an inclusive place that is open to anyone with a passion for creating great beer.
The Texas founding brewery calls it "a collaborative effort to raise awareness for the injustices people of color face daily."
According to founder Marcus Baskerville, of Weathered Souls in San Antonio, Texas, the mission is to "bridge the gap that's been around for ages and provide a platform to show that the brewing community is an inclusive place for everyone of any color."
In Illinois, 27 breweries are taking part, including six in the Chicago area. Breweries are asked to come up with a creative blend and donate the proceeds to a local organization of their choosing that supports equality and inclusion.
Revolution Brewing was one of the first to join the campaign.
"Ours is a blend. It’s the base beer of Deths Tar," said Josh Deth, Chairman of the Party. "It’s an imperial stout. It's got a lot of oats in it. An imperial oat stout, gives the beer kind of a thickness and velocity."
Revolution will donate every dollar made from the "Black is Beautiful" beer to My Block My Hood My City (MBMHMC), a community-based organization that provides underprivileged youth with an awareness of the world and opportunities beyond their neighborhood.
"It's great. People have found such amazingly creative ways to support this organization," said Nathaniel Viets-Vanlear, program manager at MBMHMC. "[The money] will go toward bolstering our youth and young adult programs all across the city, allowing us to be in more schools, allowing us to engage more young folks, expose them to brand new opportunities we could never afford before. So, the sky is the limit."
Deth calls the campaign a simple but effective way people can make a direct difference.
"With a name like Revolution got to jump on board with these projects, got to support the changes you want to see," Deth said.
Midwest Coast Brewing, a new tap room in West Town, created an Imperial Stout and is donating proceeds to MASK, Mothers/ Men Against Senseless Killing, and Breakthrough, an organization that partners with those affected by poverty to build connections, develop skills and open doors of opportunity.
'We’re hoping by having it on our menu, it’s showing that someone can be comfortable coming here. It's making a statement beyond just a month," said co-owner, Suzie Compton.
"People are looking to be a part of the solution," said head brewer, Cameron Compton. "We wanted to be a part of something that contributed not only money but time and effort, and refocus how we go about the hiring process and actually do things that will help increase diversity in the craft beer market."
Greenstar Brewing, part of Uncommon Ground and the first certified organic brewery in the state of Illinois, was also an early supporter of the cause. Their version of 'Black is Beautiful' is on draft in the brewery's restaurant.
"It is an Imperial Stout. It’s 10.5 percent ABV, so (it's) a nice strong, sturdy stout. Proceeds are going to MBMHMC," said Brandon Stern, head brewer. "It's gotten a great reception and we're selling a ton of it. I hope that people recognize the importance of drawing attention to this cause."
Pipeworks, another Chicago-based brewery is also involved.
"We’re thankful for Marcus Baskerville and the whole Weathered Souls team for creating this avenue to join together with so many other craft breweries to use beer as a vessel for this important and positive message," brewery co-founder Kate Brankin says "We’re proud to release our contribution to this collaboration project, an Imperial Stout with maple and cinnamon, next week. The profits will go to My Block My City My Hood."
The 'Black is Beautiful' beers will be available at each brewery until they are sold out, and are expected to only be available for a limited time.