Black-owned breweries honor Black ‘unsung heroes’

The four-pack celebrates “unsung heroes of Black history.”

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Several Black-owned breweries in California have teamed up to release a limited edition four-pack honoring four innovators and “unsung heroes of Black history.”

The breweries involved with crafting this unique style of Hazy IPA are Sacramento’s Oak Park Brewing Co., Fresno’s Full Circle Brewing Co., Oakland’s Hella Coastal Brewing Co., and San Francisco’s Hunters Point Brewery, East Bay Times reports.

Artist Milton Bowens was tapped to design the art for each beer can which celebrates historical Black change-makers in their industries.

Frederick McKinley Jones, who patented the world’s first successful refrigerated transportation system, is among the Black excellence featured in the collection. The other three include Bessie Coleman, the first African American female pilot, Mary Ellen Pleasant, the first African American self-made millionaire, and Robert Abbott, newspaper publisher and founder of The Chicago Defender in 1905.

The Chicago Defender was the most widely distributed Black newspaper in the U.S. in its time. 

“I’m constantly thinking about stuff, so I was throwing it on the table: Let’s do something for Black History Month. This was two years ago,” said Rodg Little, co-owner of Oak Park Brewing. “We reached out to three other Black-owned breweries – we wanted to be Black-brewery focused or forward – and we just wanted to do something different. I don’t think anybody had done that before at the time. It was just like, ‘Let’s share the love.’”

The special edition four-pack can be found at retailers across Northern California.

“Despite the continued growth of the craft beer industry, less than 1% of commercial brewers and brewery owners are Black,” Little said in a release, KCRA reports. “In efforts to grow the 1%, we are making history every day and we want to recognize those who came before us and paved the way.“

The release of the four-pack follows the massive success of last year’s limited edition that offered various IPAs highlighting the colors of the Pan-African flag, according to the report.

“The impact we had was so huge that people started placing orders for (2022) last year. They were like ‘Hey, we want first dibs,’” said Little. 

“Across the nation, we’re less than 1%, and that’s including brewers, brewery owners, distributors, and people of color in the industry altogether,” Little said. “For Sacramento, it’s definitely a rarity – we only have two Black-owned breweries, so that’s iconic in itself.”

According to the report, this year’s four-pack is a special formula of yeast and hops, with each can bearing facts about the four pioneers it celebrates.

“We’re working with guys who have aspirations to open up a brick and mortar. They’re coming out of home brewing and going into commercial brewing. But it’s up to people like Oak Park Brewing to lead the way and guide them, so they don’t have to jump through the hoops to set up their storefront,” says Little.

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