The way Day Bracey describes it, he “just kind of fell into” the world of craft beer.
“I bought a case of Full Pint, liked it and started drinking it on the podcast,” said Bracey, who partners with Ed Bailey to form Drinking Partners, a popular, award-winning podcast that is ostensibly focused on the world of craft beer but almost always manages to incorporate humor and social commentary.
From there, it didn’t take them long to discover what is hardly an industry secret: The world of craft beer has been traditionally dominated by white men.
While women are making strides — nearly one-third of U.S. craft beer is now consumed by women, according to the Brewer’s Association — minority inclusion remains low.
“When we go to breweries, we look around, and it’s like, ‘Man, there’s not a whole lot of us here,’” Bracey said.
So Bracey, Bailey, and Mike Potter — creator of Black Brew Culture, an online magazine set to launch in the fall that will celebrate African-Americans in craft beer — decided to do something about that.
Their idea: Fresh Fest ’18, Pittsburgh’s first black beer festival, which will bring 15 black-owned breweries from around the country to Threadbare Cider House & Meadery on Aug. 11, along with 10 local brewers who will partner with black artists, entrepreneurs and small business owners to collaborate on a beer.
“Whether that collaboration is on the beer style, the label design or the name, it’s so they can have some representation with that brewery and cultivate relationships,” Bracey said. “We think it’s a great way to start that dialogue in Pittsburgh.”
Local businesses who have signed up so far include Apis Mead and Winery, Bloom Brew, Butler Brew Works, Full Pint Brewing Co., Hitchhiker Brewing, Mindful Brewing Co., Rock Bottom Brewery, Shubrew, and Voodoo Brewery.
There will be entertainment, food trucks, tastings, panel discussions, meet-the-brewer sessions and educational forums. Ticket prices will range from $30 to $100, depending on the package. Organizers hope to draw 500 to 700 people and to turn Fresh Fest into an annual event.
All are welcome, of course, and Bracey said they’re hoping to draw a diverse crowd. Otherwise, he said, if he looks at the crowd on Aug. 11 and sees only white faces, “then we failed. We’d have to start over. Because this about inclusivity.
“There are very few black ownership groups in mass or craft beer around the country, and zero in Pittsburgh. But this is a billion-dollar industry so we feel it would help the black community to be involved. Part of that is access and education.”