One of the most significant social initiatives ever launched in the alcohol industry, Black is Beautiful, is making a comeback three years after it rallied craft brewers across the globe to share its inspiring message. It was launched by Weathered Souls Brewing Co of San Antonio, Texas, and its co-founder and head brewer Marcus Baskerville, in the summer of 2020 in response to the turmoil surrounding the fatal police shooting of several black people. The collaboration brewing project highlighted the social injustices faced by people of color.
“I wanted to make a positive statement amid so much anger; I wanted people to know we can change,” says Baskerville. “Beer was made to bring people together, and that’s what this project did in the end. It united us.”
To date, it has seen over 1600 breweries participate in releasing their own unique version of a Black is Beautiful stout beer, using a base recipe created by Baskerville. Having every participant agree to use the same stock label instantly created a platform with a simple message that resonated. It also has seen over $6 million raised for various local organizations that support equality, inclusion, and social reform due to every participant’s pledge to donate their proceeds.
The initiative thrust Baskerville and his brewery into the national spotlight. Plus, it gave him a voice in calling for more diversity in an industry that needs it. According to the Brewers Association, less than 1% of craft breweries in the United States are owned by African Americans.
He was elected to the board of directors for the Brewers Association in 2020 and established the Harriet Bakersville Incubation Program at the recently opened second outpost of Weathered Souls in Charlotte, North Carolina. The program aims to introduce women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ individuals into the brewing industry.
But the launch of the National Black Brewers Association (NB2A) in May of 2023 motivated him to bring out Black is Beautiful Volume 2. The non-profit NB2A, upon whose board of directors he sits, is dedicated to increasing the number of African Americans in the craft beer industry. Every brewery participating in Volume 2 will pledge to donate $1 per beer sold to the NB2A.
“The National Black Brewers Association is the ideal organization to ally Black is Beautiful with this time,” says Baskerville. “We can help fund their mission to create a more inclusive environment in craft beer and set the stage for more persons of color to enter into the industry successfully.”
This time around, instead of creating a stout beer, participants will be working off a base Hazy IPA recipe created by Baskerville. By offering brewers the chance to work with one of the hottest beer styles on the market, the hope is to attract another round of drinkers to the cause. As the first go around, everyone will use the same label that they can customize to promote the beer.
If Black is Beautiful garners the same support as its first incarnation, it should easily hit its $1 million goal to fund the NB2A in these early days. That should help make a difference in the craft beer industry and promote a positive message.