This sponsored column is written by Steve Quartell, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway). Sign up for the email newsletter and receive exclusive discounts and offers. Order from Arrowine’s expanding online store for curbside pickup.
Words often fail.
But I’m not here to share my words today. I need to listen.
Listen, and read, and watch, and learn and grow. Because I don’t know about you all but I have always been drawn to beer because it is so absolutely human. It is so bound in community. Bound in what we owe to each other. I grow personally as the scope and diversity of my community grows — I hope you feel the same way.
Growth and change are rooted in better understanding, some of that needs to be rooted in today — we’ll get to that with the black voices below that give me continued insight into experiences outside my own — but so much is rooted in understanding our history.
I’m currently a few chapters into “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration” by Isabel Wilkerson. But I’m a slow reader, and I absorb information much better through visual instruction, so I am also “binging” a video playlist on Black Voices and Black History put together by the creators of Crash Course.
In our present day — I just came off two years running brewery tours in Washington, D.C. and had the benefit of meeting thousands of people from all over. Fortunately I’ve stayed in touch here and there with both @TheIPAway from the DMV area and @CraftBeerKillah out of Atlanta, Georgia. I love following their takes on their respective beer scenes and consider it a huge part of my understanding of what people love about beer.
I’ve also been inspired by the work of the Black Beer Movement, and am still kicking myself not ever getting my hands on their collaboration beer with Right Proper — a peach fruited Saison called Cuffing Saison.
On a national scale the work done by Beer Kulture, and the book “This Ain’t the Beer You’re Used to” woke me up to the persistent racism that survives in the beer industry at all levels, as well as the different perspectives needed to create change and move forward — it in turn spurred me to find voices I hadn’t heard before like UnCapEverything out of Richmond and TheBrotherAtTheBar out of Chicago.
And I can’t really speak about the brewing industry without mentioning Dr J. Jackson-Beckham of the Richmond Area and Garret Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery, two huge figures who need no introduction I could ever give, but if you aren’t already following them in some capacity — fix that.
Closer to home in our DMV beer industry, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention D.C.’s two black owned breweries Sankofa Beer and Soul Mega — and how much I greatly anticipate when they can begin distribution to Virginia.
At the same time I ran tours, I also worked with one of D.C.’s distilleries One Eight — I had the pleasure of working with and befriending Andrew, @FraudBartender, now the Tasting Room Manager — and worked a tasting table at an event in SE where I had no idea how lucky I was to meet Rabia Kamara owner of Ruby Scoops Ice Cream (Currently trying to finish a store build out in Richmond) and Angela Davis, The Kitchenista — creator of a Mac and Cheese recipe that may change your life.
Just thinking about that Mac and Cheese makes me hungry and also makes me think of the “looks so good it’s unfair I can’t eat it right now” instagram feed of Chef James Turner, Head Chef at Blue 44 in D.C. — you like food? Yeah, I thought so. Me too. Go there, now.
And if all of that makes you thirsty for a beer, call or message your DMV breweries and ask that they participate in the collaboration, “Black” Is Beautiful, raising funds for legal defense reform. I’ll go on record that if my brewery partners brew it, I’ll stack it.
Photo via Instagram