Browse Tag

Brewery

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Black Owned Brewery Celebrates Two years of Crafting Beer and Community

Hard to get more Northwest than coffee, bicycling and craft brews. That just so happens to be the special recipe behind Washington state’s first and only Black-owned brewery.

Metier Brewing in Woodinville just celebrated its two-year anniversary this summer. Owner Rodney Hines and co-founder Todd Herriott made it more than just about beer.

Black owned brewery
Rodney Hines

“All about building community and offering a welcoming gathering space for families, friends, and those who appreciate well-crafted beer,” Hines said. As soon as you walk through the door you’ll see the purpose written on the wall: “Our Mission is to brew damn good beer and build a stronger community to inspire bigger dreams for all.”

It’s a family-friendly, pet-friendly, and bike-friendly brewery located in the heart of Woodinville’s wine district.

Metier is french and poetically means “one’s calling, one’s destiny.” The team behind Metier Brewing Co. is symbolic of their diversity mission.

Herriott owns a premium bicycle shop with the same name on Capitol Hill and Hines left a corporate job in the coffee world to dive into craft beer full-time. “I’m a home brewer…and no one should ever taste any of that,” Hines joked.

“This has been a dream of mine for a long time. Where everyone can feel welcomed. It took me over 50 years, but here we are!”

They hired a brewmaster and have quickly found success in brewing up some popular beers.“We’ve already won awards for our beer, so it says we’re delivering on that so we’ve got the product. We’ve got damn good beer and that’s allowed us to focus on the other part of our mission,” Hines said.

Black owned brewery

Hines says there are only about 65 Black-owned breweries that they know about across the nation.

“That is not to say that folks of color don’t like beer. I think that’s to say that folks of color don’t always see themselves welcomed into all spaces,” Hines said. “It feels like an inviting space for everyone, and there’s intention behind that.”

“That’s out of about 8,000 and there are even fewer female-owned breweries,” he said.

The business is brewing craft beers but the passion for community is evident on the walls. Tap Room Manager Bailey Kroeger says it was their commitment to diversity and caring about people that attracted her to work with the brewery.

“It’s been nice to work at a company that actually cares about me,” Kroeger said.

Fundraising efforts and partnerships with other local businesses are celebrated throughout the taproom and most recently Metier Brewing teamed up with another local brewer to release “Say It Loud: Stout and Proud” to benefit Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle.

 

Source: NBC King 5

Related: Black Owned Beer brands


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Harris Family Brewery is the First Black Owned Brewery in Pennsylvania

Harris Family Brewery is believed to be Pennsylvania’s first Black owned brewery. The brewery started gaining attention this year after securing space for a brewpub in Harrisburg’s Allison Hill neighborhood, though the road to this point has been long.

Shaun Harris, a big man with a kind face, registered Harris Family Brewery as a business on January 2, 2014. He had been home-brewing since 2013, learning from YouTube videos. But when he went to make it official, he said he was shocked to find no other African-American beermakers across the state had come before him.

“I was looking for guidance at that point,” he said. “What did you have to go through? And I couldn’t find anybody that went through the struggle, or had to do anything at all.”

Black owned brewery

The craft brewing movement has been growing since the early 1980s. But the men behind HFB–Harris, Timothy White, and Jerry “JT” Thomas–can’t definitively say why so few black people have been involved.

“That’s a good question,” White said. “Historically, it’s just a white thing. Like traditional, bearded, flannel shirt men.”

For what it’s worth, all three men sport beards.

Harris said he thinks the upfront cost and time of home brewing deterred potential black brewers.

“At the end of your upfront cost and your time, you may still end up with something that’s terrible and you have to try again anyway,” Harris said. “So, I think it’s just, it’s easier, like–in our neighborhood nobody got no money to waste like that.”

Harris had his own trials in brewing, like when he made a sour without realizing it’s a legitimate type of beer.

“It was terrible to me. I was like, are we drinking this?!” he remembered. “And JT was like, yeah, it’s a lot of beer. We can’t waste 40 gallons of beer.”

They also met with some friction when they joined a homebrewers group on Facebook.

“That weren’t, let’s say, very accepting to people like us,” Harris said.

White interjected, “Racists. There are racist people in the homebrew clubs, because they can be.”

Some in the group commented that black brewers were “appropriating their culture.”

The guys had to shrug off the comments and focus on the business of selling beer, which is not as easy as it looks.

“There was a whole lot of figuring this out,” Harris said. “There was at least 18 months of: you mean to tell me we got to get a building before we can apply for a permit? You mean to tell me I can’t get a building for less than $3,000 a month?”

They finally lucked into a space at 13th and Market streets, owned by a friend of White’s. The landlord originally planned to rent an apartment on the second floor above a laundromat, but the idea fell through, leaving the space vacant for years.

The space requires a lot of work from the three men, including demolition and renovations. The area for the future beer garden is covered with piles of broken furniture and thick brush. But that doesn’t scare the brewers.

“I walked in, I was like, this could work,” White said. “It was sketchy, but I have really good vision.”

The men still need to obtain a zoning variance from the City of Harrisburg to operate out of the building before they can apply for state and federal permits to sell their beer. Still, they seem optimistic now that they’ve cleared the first major hurdle of finding a place for their business.

The brewery has garnered support from the Allison Hill community and a few established craft breweries in the area. HFB and Zeroday recently collaborated on a beer called It’s Poppin’. That debuted at a screening of the documentary “Poured in PA,” which featured the trio.

Some midstate brewers are encouraging Harris to start bigger. But because they are largely self-funded, the goal is to start small and gradually grow the business. The location on Market Street will be a nanobrewery with ten seats at the bar, a few tables, and very small-batch brewing.

At this point, the most they can produce at one time is a single barrel.

“We did that math, so it’s like 240 servings,” Harris said. “And that’s not big enough for when we start making this for reals.”

Bigger equipment comes with a bigger price tag, so they’ll use the equipment they already have, then ramp up. But that doesn’t faze the brewers.

“I would have to make beer three times a day for five or six days out of the week in order for us to be profitable,” Harris said. “And my answer to that is, ok. I mean, isn’t that the idea for me to make beer all the time, because that’s what I like to do?”

The founders of Harris Family Brewery said if all goes well, people will be enjoying their signature beers in the nanobrewery sometime next year, and brewing operations will move to a larger location in the next two to three years.

Source: WITF

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Cajun Fire Brewing Company: One of the Only Black Owned Breweries in the U.S.

Last year, the U.S. brewing industry contributed over $250 billion to the economy and is still growing. With 90% of the beer  made by only 11 breweries, you could say that this is a tough market to crack.

However, one company is ready to take on the challenge and is poised for much success. This company is New Orleans based, Cajun Fire Brewing Company. We chatted with Jon Renthrope, the founder and here is what he had to say:

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SB: Please tell us a little about yourself.

Jon: My name is Jon Renthrope, I am a husband, father, and entrepreneur.  I am a brewer by trade and founder of Cajun Fire Brewing Company.  Born and raised in New Orleans.

SB: You and your family were in New Orleans when Katrina hit. How did that disastrous event influence you?
Jon: Katrina was a breaking point for many.  In a span of ten years I have seen my community destroyed and all but forgotten.  For the sake of perspective, I was 17 when the storm hit.

It is ten years since that incident. Knowing what I know now, it is truly unfortunate that the truth has never received critical or empathetic thinking.  ‘Til this day, the event influences me to reinforce and advocate entrepreneurship.

AcadianaHoneyAle
SB: Out of over 3400 breweries in the U.S., less than five are Black owned. That would discourage some people from even considering this market. What gave you the motivation and confidance to pursue this venture?

Jon: What gave me the motivation was the effort and commitment I made to focus research with a plan of action in mind.  Maintaining a discipline and reading other Black business pioneer chronicles and interviews eases most doubts.

The support is definitely appreciated and helps.  When digesting the statistics, I must say it can be daunting given the odds of success and the economic/demographic data available in the palm of your hand these days.

However, the main push from day to day comes from within.  You have to put yourself to action and go for what you want.

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SB: You operate the business with four friends. What advice do you have about successfully mixing business and friendship?

Jon: Operating a business in general is difficult.  Working with friends and family can further complicate those difficulties if you or your business models are ill-prepared.

Setting protocols in advance can save your company in situations when emotions and passion take precedence.  However, with the right discipline and plan of action in place, the loyalty and altruism that comes with working with a team that values one another past their pay check is invaluable to not only the efficiency of the business but also the psyche of those involved on the team.

Praline Ale

SB: What would you say has been the biggest obstacle in your business journey so far?

Jon: Ensuring that all of state, federal, and local permits and licensing are valid and in place.   Manufacturing alcohol is a highly regulated industry and it is critical that all your licensing and permits are current up to date and have not lapsed.


SB: Where you see yourself and your business in 10 years?

Jon: I am hopeful that I am in good health.  I see myself being a more seasoned professional in my crafts and Cajun Fire maintaining unique brand direction and delivering evolving experiences in the craft beer industry.

SB: Who has been your greatest inspiration in life or in business?

Jon: My grandmother, Annie Simpson-Bruner.  Her experiences and struggles paved the way for my opportunity.  She is a very strong person and being exposed to her courage has definitely left lasting impressions on my personal character.

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SB: What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Jon: Entrepreneurship is a journey that breads sustainability.  As mentally and physically engaging of a battle entrepreneurship can be it is without a doubt in my opinion one of the most fulfilling experiences you are likely to take part in.

Ultimately, it is the single most effective economic method to create a healthy and competitive community.  The most successful ideas are rarely validated in their infancy.  Proactive self determination is key to empowering your unique ideas.

 

-Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson