A movement toward racial equality is brewing.
An initiative started by a Black-owned brewery in Texas has reached Minnesota — along with all 50 states and 20 countries.
More than 1,000 breweries have produced a beer called “Black is Beautiful” to raise awareness of racial inequity and injustice, and raise money to support equality and inclusion and combat police brutality.
Versions of the imperial stout are now available at Thesis Beer Project and Little Thistle Brewing, with another from Forager Brewing Co. on the way.
The initiative and base beer recipe were developed by Marcus Baskerville, co-owner and head brewer at Weathered Souls Brewing Co. in San Antonio, Texas.
“They provided a sort of rough template and said, ‘Do what you want,’ ” said Steve Finnie, co-owner of Little Thistle Brewing Co. “It’s really incredible to see what all these different breweries are doing with it.”
At Little Thistle, three varieties of the beer are on tap and in cans. Proceeds from sales there will go to BEAM (Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective), an organization that promotes mental well-being and emotional connection for Black people, and to Leadership Through Basketball via Rochester for Justice.
“We know they do great work, and we know where the money is going,” Finnie said.
Breweries were encouraged to donate to local organizations, he added.
“They ask you to give to your local area because the issues are systemic,” Finnie said.
Little Thistle brewed an 8-barrel batch — almost 250 gallons — and split it into thirds. One third was kept as originally brewed from the recipe. Another third was aged on Guatemalan coffee beans provided by Trail Creek Coffee Roasters of Kasson. Another third was aged on toasted coconut. Most of the malts came from Maltwerks, which is based in Detroit Lakes. Little Thistle also used Minnesota-grown hops from Civil Sass and Mighty Axe hop farms.
Those beers were released Wednesday.
“(The base beer) has a really great dark chocolate and dark fruit flavor,” Finnie said.
Thesis Beer Project released its version at the beginning of the month.
"We thought it was important to show our support for the initiative," said Adam Fredericksen, co-owner of Thesis.
The Thesis version was conditioned with toasted coconut, but also rested on Forastero Cacao Nibs.
"We wanted to add a bit more flavor to a big stout but still stay within (the recipe) guidelines," he said. "That's part of the fun."
Proceeds from that beer will go toward Project Legacy, which helps young people of color who are refugees or dealing with homelessness or poverty.
The Thesis version will probably be around on tap for another couple weeks. That's about when Forager Brewing Co.'s version is expected to be ready, said Annie Henderson, Forager co-owner.
Forager Brewing Co. plans to release its version in August. The Forager "Black is Beautiful" was conditioned with peanuts, fresh coconut, roasted cocoa nibs and marshmallows. Proceeds from those sales will go to Love NAACP. That will be available in bottles only, Henderson said.
Brewing a fundraising beer on the heels of being closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak hasn’t been the easiest undertaking.
“Even if this does stretch us a little, this is the right to do,” Finnie said.
He said the effort fits the mission he and his wife, Dawn, envisioned when they established the business.
“Breweries are community hubs,” Finnie said. “Our goal — Dawn and mine — is to create a place where everyone is welcome.”