Like everyone else with a civic consciousness, many Colorado breweries looked inward last week, asking themselves how best to support the movement to end racial injustice and police brutality.
For some, it was a simple social media post on #blackouttuesday or an affirmation of Black Lives Matter. For others, it was links to resources, financial donations, highlighting black-owned businesses or a pledge to "do better." At least a half a dozen (including Black Project, Horse & Dragon, Cheluna, Dos Luces and Left Hand) say they are participating in a nationwide brewing project from Texas's Weathered Souls Brewing Co. called Black Is Beautiful.
And there are still a few breweries that continue to think things through, trying to decide how they can move beyond words and images to become a part of real and lasting change. Here are some of the ways that Colorado breweries have responded on Facebook.
Novel Strand Brewing
Novel Strand, which is one of the few Colorado breweries with black ownership, found itself thrust into the spotlight. Its owners responded in a variety of ways. Here is one of their messages:
The only way we start to end racism is if each one of us — regardless of skin color, religion, background, sexuality, gender, whatever — takes it upon ourselves to learn from and about each other. Each of us needs to take it upon ourselves to be open to the lessons of history — ESPECIALLY if they make us uncomfortable. There's a reason they make us uncomfortable. Because we know it isn't right. By educating ourselves about the racist history and systemic racism that have driven the USA since its inception, we start to free ourselves from it. We start to see each other as equal people, respecting and understanding each other's experiences. It isn't enough to make lists of black owned businesses, and it isn't enough to put up black squares on social media and pat yourself on the back. These are temporary fixes. Those are slapping a band-aid on a gunshot wound. Knowledge and understanding are the keys forward. In our Bio you can find links to get more information. We will be updating this information over the next few days. It will be about both how we got here, and on how we can get out of this. We ask that you take a look. We ask that you make an effort to learn. That will mean more to us than sharing our brewery or taking pictures of our beer. We appreciate your support, we see your passion, and we love y'all for it.
Left Hand Brewing
Left Hand's mission is to build a stronger community around beer. What we say in words, we put into action. We are proud to announce the initial steps that we are taking in a continued and sustained effort to fight for the value, safety and advancement of Black people in our communities. Starting today and continuing through PRIDE month, 50 percent of your tasting room purchases of Raspberry Milk Stout is being donated to Center for Black Equity, "supporting leaders, institutions and programs for the social, economic and health equity for LGBTQ+ people of African descent." Next week, we are brewing in partnership with Weathered Souls Brewing Co. and the amazing Black Is Beautiful project. Donations will benefit Black Lives Matter 5280. As an industry we have a long way to grow and much to learn; we promise to be on the frontlines of this charge.
Please don’t assume that social media silence is a sign of apathy or inaction. Social media can be a wonderful tool, but it can also provide a false sense of accomplishment. We are working with leaders of the Black community here in Five Points to come up with concrete, actionable items that we can support and participate in to bring about the changes our society so desperately needs. Not one of those leaders asked that we post our position on social media. They’ve asked us to march with them, they’ve asked us to sell merchandise that can benefit organizations that are fighting for change, they’ve asked us to support Black-owned businesses, they’ve asked us to listen. An end to the systemic racism in our country will take an immense sustained effort. I hope that everyone who has taken the time to show support on social media does the same when it comes time to vote and hold our elected officials accountable. Black lives absolutely matter, and talk is still cheap.
Black Lives Matter. WeldWerks is committing in both word and deed to racial equality and the end of police brutality in America. We will start by donating $5,000 to Black Lives Matter 5280 and $5,000 to Campaign Zero, in an effort to firmly support those who are already fighting the good fight. We encourage you to look into those organizations (and others like them) to learn about their work and how you can help. And please know, this is not a token response. We will change our posture, sharpen our vision, and make this a sustained effort. We will be better, for everyone.
If anyone knows us well, they know that we take a lot of time to think things through before we act. We’ve spent time observing, processing and educating ourselves. In this case, admittedly, too much time. We have watched with disgust and despair the horrible death of a human being named George Floyd, and the rising up of many indignant but peace-loving souls who are crying that enough is enough. We wholeheartedly agree. Yet, who are we to weigh in? What, as a white person-owned business, can we say that does not sound hollow, or awkward—or worse, self-serving? But to say nothing is a statement in and of itself. Today, we are not so much a business as we are a collection of people who want you to know that we firmly believe in respecting the dignity of every human being. People of color have tragically been denied this respect for far too long. Enough is enough. This is not a political statement, this is essential to our humanity. One of our company values says this: “We believe in building community through beer by creating connection, building relationships, giving back, and practicing open-hearted hospitality.” Do we always live up to this value? No. Does our industry prioritize diversity and inclusivity? Hardly. Can we do more? Yes. Always, yes. That has never been more clear. We don’t have all the answers. But what we can tell you in this moment is that we will renew our efforts to live up to the standards we have set for ourselves, and to seek out new opportunities to do so, because if we can live our daily lives with this in mind we can help our society to change, starting at its most basic level. Right now, our hearts ache for the Floyd family. Our hearts ache for all those (including our own staff, customers, and friends) who are treated unfairly simply because of the way they were born. Our hearts ache for our country, which obviously has a lot of work to do. And the work starts with all of us. Let’s get to it, brothers and sisters.
Our social media accounts have been quiet this past week, for a mix of reasons. I’ve taken a cautious approach to reopening our taproom in order to ensure we do so as safely as possible, and while I have several announcements to make regarding our official reopening, that can wait. It also felt uncomfortable to post about selling beer this past week given the much more important protests taking place. It has been difficult to find the words to express my feelings, and how to appropriately do so on behalf of this business. I’ve wanted to balance my desire to listen to those who deal with continued racism as part of their everyday lives, while also voicing my support for the struggle to create systemic change. This business wholeheartedly supports the protesters demanding justice and reforms to end the long history of senseless violence by law enforcement against black Americans. The demonstrations occurring this weekend were primarily peaceful. While some destruction and theft of property are never a desired outcome and we don't condone it, I understand the frustration from continuously watching as peaceful protests don’t accomplish enough. I recognize that things can be replaced, while human lives cannot. We call on our elected officials (Michael B. Hancock, Jared Polis) to also prioritize human lives over property, and balance the need to maintain order and safety with the desire to deescalate tensions rather than meeting them with further violence. The best way to prevent an uprising is to address the root causes that led to it. I will be doing my best to further educate myself about what we all must do to ensure that those directly affected by these injustices aren’t fighting this battle alone. I will also be donating $500 today to Black Lives Matter 5280 on behalf of Grandma’s House.
Horse & Dragon Brewing
Big thanks and admiration to Marcus Baskerville of Weathered Souls Brewing Co. for creating this Black is Beautiful collaboration brew, and for allowing Horse & Dragon to take part. Please take the time to read Marcus’s message about this collaboration beer. H&D will be donating from sales of our version of Black Is Beautiful to the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition. Other breweries around the US will also be brewing their versions of this beer and donating to groups in their regions working toward a more just society. We stand in solidarity with people who face the injustices of racist and prejudiced systems, even as we acknowledge that many of us are a part and product of these systems. We're vowing to better educate ourselves and work to combat racism.