The initial impetus for craft beer was as an antidote to uniform and bland American light beers. It was about using the entire palette of malt, hops, yeast and water to create not just one beer style, but all the styles, and then imagine new ones as well.
While craft beer has delivered on that promise, one aspect has lagged behind, the people imagining the beers. Specifically minorities. The craft brewing industry is still not representative of our diversity as a country and as the City of Los Angeles.
But that is changing. We can now point to two breweries who are part of the vanguard of how beer can be made when it is owned and brewed by Black men and women.
Starting with the newest entrant, South Los Angeles Beverage Company, which recently launched its first beer, a hazy IPA named Legacy, part of the People’s Republic of South Central (PRSC) brand. According to the brewery, “the line will feature a quarterly beer release with 100% of net proceeds benefiting charitable initiatives in South Central Los Angeles for those negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Craig Bowers and Samuel Chawinga founded the company which will begin brewing sometime next year in “SoLa Impact’s The Beehive, the country’s first-ever campus for Opportunity Zone businesses.” South Los Angeles Beverage Company was also “announced as one of the inaugural participants in the Grid110 South Los Angeles business accelerator program sponsored by the City of Los Angeles.”
You may have noticed that Crowns & Hops led by Theo Hunter and Beny Ashburn has had a few new beers out in better beer shops. The Inglewood based brewery participated in the nationwide Black is Beautiful campaign with a Pecan Pie Stout and has a new hazy called Elevated Cypher as well as a collaboration with Highland Park Brewery which is on the way.
What has rightfully garnered more attention is their 8 Trill Pils. It is both a beer and “an $100,000 development fund supported by BrewDog, that will be awarded to several Black-owned craft beer brands to provide financial support in the areas of business development, growth and sustainability.”
Why beer fans in Los Angeles should be following the progress of these two breweries is that we need not only their perspective on our city, but also we need their contributions to craft beer. We need beer made by and for everyone in this city from each of its neighborhoods and communities. I bet that the next must-have beer style will find its origins from a brewer inspired by or working for one of these two breweries.
When shopping for beer this month, be on the lookout for love. Eagle Rock Brewery and Norwalk Brew House have teamed up with LA hip-hop artist, 2Mex, to release Love Fights Back, a guava and mango blonde ale with citrus zest. The collaboration beer will send proceeds to support LA-based non-profit Urban Peace Institute.