Madison breweries join ‘Black is Beautiful’ campaign for racial justice

More than 1,000 breweries are participating globally, with four from Madison.
Black Is Beautiful Beer's website homepage.
Photo courtesy Weathered Souls Brewing
Weathered Souls Brewing launches Black is Beautiful Beer Campaign.

More than 1,000 breweries in the United States and 19 countries have joined the Black is Beautiful campaign to raise awareness of racial injustice and to help local communities fight for legal defense funds, police reform and racial equality. In the state, 17 breweries are participating with four in Madison and six in Milwaukee. 

The campaign was started by Marcus Baskerville, head brewer and co-owner of Weathered Souls Brewing Co., an independent brewery based in San Antonio, Texas. Black is Beautiful aims to raise awareness by asking participating breweries to donate 100% of the proceeds of a beer to local foundations that support police reform, legal defense funds or organizations that support equality and inclusion. Weathered Souls provided the recipe for a stout beer and invites breweries participating from all 50 states to put their own spin on the recipe. It was developed to highlight different shades of black.

“As someone who has personally dealt with the abuse of power by the police, this recent turmoil the country is facing has hit home for me,” Baskerville says on the website, speaking about his experience as a Black man. “As I write this, I contemplate how the country can move forward, how we as the people, can create change, and what it will take for everyone to move forward with a common respect for one another. For us, we feel that this is our contribution to a step. 

Delta Beer Lab, located on Madison’s south side, got involved after Chief Beer Officer and Founder Tim Pio Piotrowski felt the campaign matched Delta’s mission. 

“[Our mission] is to expand community through quality local craft beers without barriers to gender, race or sexual orientation,” Piotrowski says. “Race has always been a component of issues that we were concerned about. Sometimes I end up talking about the mission more than I end up talking about the beer.”  

Delta Beer Labs has worked to become a Certified LGBT Business Enterprise through the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, and as a business staffed by mostly white people, has tried to fulfill the race component of Delta’s mission by being a welcoming, open environment. 

“When an opportunity came up to amplify melanated voices by raising awareness and raising funds for people of color that are fighting the fight on the front lines, it was a no-brainer to get involved,” Piotrowski says.

Delta Beer Lab partners with a nonprofit each month and donates all tips — the brewery doesn’t take tips as employees are paid more than a living wage but this Thursday after 4 p.m. all sales and tips of Delta’s Black IPA will go tFreedom Inc. 

Now this is a release you wont want to miss. See you next Thursday! w/ Freedom…

Posted by Delta Beer Lab on Thursday, July 16, 2020

The campaign also asks participants to commit to working for equality in the long-term, not just while the Black Lives Matter movement remains in the public eyeThe real issue behind the campaign is education, according to the website.  

“As much as we want this to be about raising money, the real issue is bringing education and information, which will bring forth change to a system that has fractured so many families and has been broken for decades,” reads the website. 

Another Madison-based brewery, Young Blood Beer Co., got involved when they found out about the campaign on social media. Co-founder Tom Dufek said the campaign resonated with his mission of making Young Blood a community-focused brewery.  

“It’s very important for us as a company to call for change when we see it,” Dufek says. “It’s still surprising to us that this is a controversial statement, that Black lives matter and that police brutality is not something we should stand for. It was a very easy thing for us to get behind.”

A few weeks ago we joined the Black Is Beautiful initiative organized by Weathered Souls Brewing Co. in San Antonio, TX….

Posted by Young Blood Beer Company on Tuesday, July 7, 2020

All proceeds of Young Blood’s Black is Beautiful beers will go to the Urban League of Greater Madison. Young Blood created two beers, one using donated cold brew from Ancora and the other using donated coffee beans from Johnson Public House and KIN-KIN COFFEE. Young Blood offers the beers on tap in its tasting room, but is sold out of four packs. Dufek expects to have another batch in the next two weeks. The beer will also be sold at several locations, including Trixie’s Liquor and Barley Pop Tap Shop.

Madison’s Herbiery and Giant Jones Brewing Co. are also participating. Milwaukee’s 1840 Brewing Co., Broken Bat Brewing Co., Company Brewing, Component Brewing Co., Good City Brewing, Tank 8 Beer and Third Space Brewing have created beers in the campaign. Central Waters Brewing Co., 3 Sheeps Brewing, Driftless Brewing Co., Hinterland Brewery, Mc Fleshman’s Brewing, Racine Brewing Co. and The Fermentorium Beverage Co. are some of the other Wisconsin brewers in the initiative.