The Fourth of July is usually a big weekend for Colorado craft breweries. They tap their watermelon beers or light summer seasonals, break out the barbecues and get ready for fireworks. Many host big patio parties and deck themselves out in red, white and blue.
Things are different this year, however. Not only has the coronavirus put a damper on festivities at breweries and everywhere else, but the American flag has become wrapped up in discussions of politics and race.
For many, a display of the flag — whether on a T-shirt, a beer can or a coffee-shop sugar packet — is equal to a certain conservative view of the world rather than simple pride. Nationalism rather than patriotism. Exclusivity rather than inclusivity. That change was hurried along a few years ago, when a number of black NFL football players chose to kneel during the national anthem in order to bring attention to police brutality and racial bias.
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As a result, the flag is now inextricably entwined with the Black Lives Matter movement. So is much of American culture, including the beer business. And so this weekend a number of Colorado breweries are tapping different versions of a beer called Black is Beautiful. Created by Weathered Souls Brewing, a black-owned brewery in San Antonio, Texas, Black is Beautiful is designed to help breweries nationwide “bring awareness to the injustices that many people of color face daily and to raise funds for police brutality reform and legal defenses for those who have been wronged," according to the brewery.
Nearly 1,000 breweries in all fifty states and eighteen countries have signed on to brew their own version of the beer, a 10 percent ABV imperial stout. In Colorado, more than two dozen have committed to the project, including Black Project Wild & Spontaneous Ales, Woods Boss Brewing and Cerebral Brewing, with several others still planning to join and brew their own beers. (See the list here.)
WeldWerks Brewing in Greeley will have its Black is Beautiful beer available today, July 3, in cans and on tap; WeldWerks, which donated $10,000 to two charities supporting people of color in early June, plans to donate 100 percent of proceeds from the beer's sales today to another charity. Outer Range Brewing in Frisco will also release the beer in cans and on tap today, and has pledged to donate the proceeds to Outdoor Afro, which promotes inclusion in nature. New Image Brewing in Arvada has the beer today and is giving money to Creative Strategies for Change; Cerberus Brewing in Colorado Springs will tap the beer on July 8 and donate to the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, while Denver's Goldspot Brewing will tap its version on July 8 as well, and donate 100 percent of sales to ACLU Colorado and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
And finally, City Star Brewing in Berthoud, which taps Black is Beautiful today, will give 20 percent of sales to NAACP Denver. "We lack diversity. Our community lacks diversity. It's no secret the craft-beer industry lacks diversity,” says brewery co-owner Whitney Way in an email. “Berthoud is a predominantly white community, where we are often blind to racial injustice and the challenges that people of color face daily. Because of our location, we feel even more compelled to brew this beer in support of justice and equality for people of color."