Words & photos by SekouWrites
I don’t mind saying it: I like to drink. That said, with all that’s been going on out there in the world of late, I’ve been feeling reluctant to support white-owned liquor brands. I mean, how many times have luxury brands expressed indifference towards their black customers? And even brands that have a deep commitment to promoting their brand in the black community are still owned by people who don’t look like us. This becomes important when, as now, people of color are being harmed by those who are in a position of authority but those businesses we’ve supported over the years are not supporting us. If corporations that we spend money with are not willing to spend their money (and energy) to protect us, then we should keep our money to ourselves. So, as I look to replace my favorite spirits with some brands that are black-owned, I thought I’d share it online in case any of you are thinking of doing the same thing. If you know of other black-owned liquor brands, please let me know! Hopefully, this will become an exhaustive list.
HARLEM BREWING COMPANY:
Harlem Brewing Company was founded in 2000 by Celeste Beatty. She brews via, “a closely guarded home brew recipe that originated in Harlem’s supper clubs and speakeasies and has been passed down through generations.” Her flagship beer is Sugar Hill Golden Ale but she also has other flavors, including a sweet Strawberry Hard Cider and a flavorful Renaissance WIT that is named as such because of her family’s love affair with the Harlem Renaissance. You can find Celeste’s products in many locations like Wal-Mart— she even has distribution in Japan! Celeste is so hands-on that she has grown hops to make beer in backyards all over NYC and at Blind Buck Valley Farm in upstate New York. Since she’s one of a very small group of people of color who work in the industry, she’s had to face some adversity and ignorance but she has also discovered a deep and compelling history of beer-making in Africa. Plus, she will actually be teaching how to make beer at City College in the fall! She’s a wealth of knowledge. As you can see from the pictures below, I had the great fortune to visit Celeste at Blind Buck Valley Farm as part of an upstate getaway created by Brittney M. Walker of GypsyJaunt.com. The transportation upstate was provided by Kia, who set up up lovely with a Kia Soul and a Kia Optima for the four-hour drive– more on that soon! Anyway, the trip was a great experience and it was lot of fun to make our own beer. Since it takes a few weeks to mature I haven’t even gotten a chance to try the finished product yet but we threw in three fun flavors: Blood orange, apricot and raspberry. Should be amazing! I’ll let you know! In the meantime, all you drinkers of beer need to support Celeste. #buyblack #drinkblack
Harlem Brewing Company
Available everywhere beer is sold– ask for it!
Find out even more about Celeste and her interesting journey as a beer-maker via this very informative article by Angela Bronner Helm for TheRoot.com