On the first episode of All About Beer’s new Brewer to Brewer podcast, Tomme Arthur of The Lost Abbey interviews Marcus Baskerville of Weathered Souls Brewing.

Eventually the conversation turns to Black is Beautiful, the global collaboration that Baskerville and Weathered Souls spearheaded. To date more than 1,200 breweries in 22 countries have brewed and released the beer, which aims to “raise awareness for the injustices people of color face daily and raise funds for police brutality reform and legal defenses for those who have been wronged.”

Much has been said and chronicled about the beer and its history but Arthur wanted to go a little deeper and do a fresh check in. Hear their full conversation on the Brewer to Brewer podcast.

The Conversation

Tomme Arthur: Marcus, I think Black is Beautiful was an absolute runaway success. And I think everybody knows that. It’s kind of one of those things that will absolutely define a lot of your career and your legacy.

And given the conversation that we just talked about being a black man in a neighborhood and being pulled over. It has to kind of set the tone for why you created that project.

So, give us a really strong sense of the emotion, and just how it came to be.

But I really want you to tell us, I want to hear a story about it that maybe hasn’t been talked about or something that you really kind of took away from that maybe it’s a specific brewery or someone who did something or give us a really strong sense of why that thing matters so much to you.

Marcus Baskerville:  I’ve talked about this on Facebook before. I’ve had some negative experiences dealing with the police and stuff like that. Mind you, I come from a very heavily law enforcement household. My dad was law enforcement, my brother is in law enforcement, and I have multiple relatives in law enforcement and things like that.

But I have had some negative very negative experiences when it comes to law enforcement.

And so, we look back where we were at 2020. And I was on my way to Dallas and was listening to The Breakfast Club and was listening to Breonna Taylor’s mom talk. And she was just speaking about the course of actions, and her finding out how her daughter was murdered, and how the police basically strung her around for multiple hours and hours and hours until she finally found out what happened.

And that conversation brought me to tears just listening to it.

One because it makes you think about the situations that you’ve been in. But then on the other end of it, like I’m raising young daughters myself. And so to think about the direction that our country still is in and kind of going in.

You look at it and it’s disheartening. You lose faith in humanity and of what’s to come.

And so, it’s funny because people always talk about or a few people are talking about an organization of Black is Beautiful. But what people don’t realize about Black is Beautiful is that that was completely 100% more organic thing that was driven based off of emotion.

It was literally listening to a conversation than having a conversation with Jeffrey Stuffings from Jester King, and then being like, “man, I need to do something, I need to do something to get back. We were in peak 2020.” And I just looked at myself, “like you’re a disappointment because you have all of these protests going on, we’re basically in like civil rights 2.0, and your ass is sitting at home, basically doing nothing.”

Me being the introverted individual that I am, how can I give back with the opportunities that I have? How can I give back based off of what I have at the forefront at that time?

And it was beer.

And so that’s how Black is Beautiful came along. And originally, it was going to be a standalone release, I was going to do it in the brewery release, you know, some proceeds to a local charity. But it was about that, that giving solidarity to the cause and what was going on at that time.

But then having the conversation with Jeff and him challenging me to take it a step further, is what made me go ahead and do the initiative.

He said “I would understand if you don’t want to, but you should turn this into a collaboration.”

And that just that sentence right there tells you were kind of the general consensus of where our industry was at that time. You know, like, do you really want to go through the troubles of doing this, but I think it’s something that could be great.

And so, I thought about it over the course of that 24 hours, like how could I? And what was hard for me was the fact that we’re at 9,000 breweries, right? Well, you figure 8,900, and some change of those are Caucasian owned.

And here I am asking these 9,000 breweries to go ahead and produce a beer called Black is Beautiful. And then engage into conversation, engage into wanting to help your diverse communities, and then give money and proceeds that but not only that, but the long term.

Black is Beautiful

So, take it a step further and continue to do these things to build up your communities. And we know that the brewing industry has the opportunity to be very diverse and has the opportunity to be very inclusive, but we’re not there yet.

I look at like this two ways, I find that yes, it was very successful in the sense that the amount of money that was raised, I mean, it was, you know, close to $4 million. It helped out a ton of different organizations and foundations.

But we had 9,000 breweries in the United States, and we had 1,400 participants. So even then that’s still 7,600 breweries that didn’t have anything to do with that initiative, or Black is Beautiful, or whatever the case may be.

So those breweries that didn’t do it, because of the financial concerns of different things like that, I guess you can use that as somewhat of an excuse. But we also know that there were a lot of vendors, a lot of businesses that were given free ingredients, and a lot of heavy discounts to kind of compensate some of that.

I don’t really take that excuse too much. I kind of, you know, roll my eyes when people give that excuse. But I guess it’s an excuse.

So, I see from two separate ends, that yes, it was a wonderful thing, and that we have 1,400 other breweries participating in this. And we did a huge thing and had international attention. That’s amazing. But we still had 7,600 breweries that didn’t participate.

To me in that sense, we still have a long ways to go as an industry as far as what we see as diverse, and what we see as inclusive.

And I mean, you know, Tomme, because we’re on the board [of the Brewers Association], we deal with these conversations daily, and then deal with them in the meetings and dealing with the DEI [initiatives],

The fact that we have to have these discussions, we have to have these trainings, we have to have these different groups within different guilds, and businesses having to bring in DEI, people to talk to their staff. It’s a great thing that we’re doing it. But it’s terrible that it’s necessary.

This transcript has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Listen to the full episode wherever podcasts are available or via the player below.  

This episode is sponsored by:

Firsd Tea is a proud sponsor of the Brewer to Brewer podcast. Discover the advantage of using new and unique ingredients, like lemon myrtle or lapsang souchong. Firsd Tea has been working with brewers to introduce distinctive, high-quality botanicals for innovative craft beers. They focus on being DIRECT, FLEXIBLE, and FAST. You can find out more about Firsd Tea’s collaborations with brewers and tea ingredients by visiting firsdtea.com/blog/