The burgeoning market for the high-quality brews has become a trend among black-owned breweries and beer aficionados
Oktoberfest, the annual German beer bash celebrated everywhere, is a perfect excuse to try a better brew. And that doesn’t mean ordering a Heineken instead of your usual brand; instead, grab an American craft beer. It’s the trend—so much so that the industry saw a 22-percent growth in sales last year—and the libations now outsell Budweiser. Cool, but exactly what is craft beer? Technically, it’s defined as a traditional (largely malt-based) or innovative brew created by a small, independently owned company. And sensually speaking? Mmmm. Craft beer has a rich, full taste, usually heavy on hops (a bitter cousin of cannabis) with other unique flavors. “The beer that was around when I became of drinking age was the Wonder Bread version, this bland, fizzy liquid,” says Garrett Oliver, brewmaster at New York City’s Brooklyn Brewery.
“People are now discovering that beer is the most diverse, delicious beverage in the world.” All people? Despite the fact that some data points to African-Americans being behind the curve when it comes to the craft trend, “I don’t pay any attention to that White-guys-with-skinny-jeans thing,” says Julian Riley, president of Harlem Blue, a small NYC-based brewery. Riley and Oliver aren’t the only Black brewers. Upstarts including Cajun Fire in New Orleans; 18th Street Brewery in Gary, Ind.; and Black Frog in Toledo, Ohio, are among the country’s 3,700 craft breweries. In fact, most Americans live within 10 miles of a brewery (find one near you here: brewersassociation.org), so enjoying these smaller batches also means supporting community.