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Black-owned Texas brewery releases a new beer to support racial equality

Marcus Baskerville, co-founder of Weathered Souls, a black-owned brewery in San Antonio, Texas.
Marcus Baskerville, co-founder of Weathered Souls, a black-owned brewery in San Antonio, Texas. (CNN)

(CNN) -- Craft breweries across the United States are planning to launch a new beer in support of equality for people of color, joining other brands in responding to the growing unrest over racial issues.

Named "Black' is Beautiful," the beer is a 10% ABV imperial stout featuring a drier body with notes of dark chocolate and fudge. The first beers are expected to come out in July.

Weathered Souls, a black-owned brewery in San Antonio, Texas, created the base recipe for the beer and has recruited more than 215 brewers nationwide so far to release it. Participating breweries can add their unique twist to it and place their brewery's name on the common label.

The effort comes at a time when the craft beer industry is grappling with its own diversity issues. Depending on the role, 76% to 89% of brewery employees are white, according to the latest demographic data from the Brewers Association published in August 2019. Additionally, 62% to 92.5% were male, excluding service staff positions, according to the self-reported survey data.

"With the 2019 data now available, anyone scanning it will conclude there is work to be done, and we as a craft beer community can do better," Julia Herz, the Brewers Association's craft beer program director, wrote in a note accompanying the data.

In recent years, the Brewers Association has tried to encourage a more inclusive industry by creating grant programs, partnering with minority organizations and hiring a diversity ambassador.

Since the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was killed by a white police officer on May 25 in Minneapolis, companies like Facebook and Peloton have announced donations to groups fighting racial inequality. Others like Nike and Netflix have weighed in on social media.

While the proceeds from the beer will go toward social justice causes, the product is in part a marketing opportunity for breweries: The hope is that the messaging behind it will help them reach the industry's millennial consumer base, as well as new beer-drinkers who are now giving craft beverages a try, said Marcus Baskerville, co-founder of Weathered Souls.

"Being that this is supporting people of color, I thought a stout would be appropriate," Baskerville said.

Participating breweries will be donating a portion of their proceeds from the new beer to an organization of their choice. Baskerville, who said he had experiences of racial profiling and being unfairly detained when he was younger, said he hopes a show of unison by the industry could make a difference.

"It's crazy that you even have to ask for change," he said.

Collaboration has long been a tenant of the craft beer sector. In the past, small and independent brewers found common ground in challenging beer giants like Anheuser-Busch InBev with eclectic styles and approaches to beer.

Weathered Souls' effort is not dissimilar from a recent effort where more than 800 breweries released All Together IPAs and donated the proceeds to hospitality workers and others affected by the pandemic and related closures, said Samuel Richardson, co-founder and brewmaster of Other Half Brewing. The brewery spearheaded the All Together collaboration and is one of the breweries that will roll out Black is Beautiful.

Other Half was excited to throw its weight and support behind the Black is Beautiful collaboration because "it's just a cause that's long overdue," Richardson said.

"We're definitely still a white male-dominated industry, and I feel like there is a lot of interest in changing that," said Richardson, who identifies as a white male. "I think that everybody is trying to figure out the next step to push that change as hard as they can," he said.

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