Celeste Beatty the one in the middle, the first African American woman to own a brewery in the United States. Her brand is called Harlem Brewing Company, and with it, she attempts to capture the legacy of Harlem and flavors of Africa. Take the 125 IPA, named after Harlem's famous 125th street.
Celeste says we brought our traditions from Africa, and we brewed beer for Thomas Jefferson and various people that enslaved us, we were never able to actually open the brewery, we were never able to actually be the entrepreneurs early on. So, there is no tradition of owning breweries, of owning bars, because of that discrimination. And I don't know if I would say the discrimination continues that blatantly today, but I think the biggest barriers is the lack of capital. We just don't have it.
African Americans own less than 1% of all US craft breweries, and surveys suggest African Americans made up only 10% of weekly craft-beer drinkers in 2016. These low numbers are a result of the long history of discrimination in the alcohol industry in the US. From the late 1700s to the late 1800s, laws were passed across several Southern states that forbade retailers to give, sell, or deliver alcohol to any enslaved or free African Americans. In the 1920s and '30s, white Southern prohibitionists claimed that, quote: "liquor gave Negroes the strength to repudiate their inferior status and that it also encouraged them to attack white women. Therefore, it was imperative that it should be denied them." But black Americans have a long history of brewing beer, spanning back to Peter Hemings, who took over malting and brewing at Thomas Jefferson's plantation, Monticello.
Celeste is unapologetically black, the great black heritage with every beer flavor profile. Like her Renaissance Wit, which won the Best Brew of New York City in 2018.
Celeste grew up in the South. Since many of us migrated from the South to Harlem, it was all about flavor, you know, we were always competing, who had the best banana pudding, who had the best, you know, chicken, beef, you know. So, the Belgian style, Harlem style, is really about adding more layers of flavor.