Meet Two Black Women Who Are Taking on the Male-Dominated Craft Beer Industry | The Root

– [Brianna] Been told that I need to be at home raising babies
instead of lifting stuff in a warehouse or trying to make beer. – [Celeste] The imagery you
see of so many men brewing and so few women brewing, is just a misconception of the facts. The facts are that there
are thousands of women still brewing in the continent of Africa. That they are the original home brewers. – Women were the original brewers here. When it became profitable, that’s when the guy started picking it up. – As usual. You know how guys are, just kidding. (laughter) (hypnotic hiphop music) (tranquil music) This is where it all started. This is where I started home
brewing more than 23 years ago. Here we experiment. I make small batches. And from here, we brew
commercially upstate. And then in North
Carolina, in Rocky Mount, we have a collaboration brewery where I work with my partner Brianna to collaborate on beers. It’s one of the leading
brewing states in America. There are more than 8,000 breweries now and North Carolina has several hundred. – [Brianna] So this is
the Rocky Mount Mill. It was a cotton mill built in 1818, built by slaves, run by slaves
for a good 40, 50 years. – So we can’t just be about
the business of brewing beer. This is a huge thing for
black women to be here in the capacity we’re in. – The craft breweries, the feel of it is just not relatable to
people in our community, so I think that’s what
we bring to the table in addition to the
different flavors and ideas. The name “Spaceway” is
because of jazz musician and poet, Sun Ra, had a song called “We Travel the Space Ways
from Planet to Planet.” Dondada, one of the first
beers I ever brewed. I was really big into Jamaican
music when I was a kid, when I was in high school. That’s how the music inspires the beers. I got Agent 7 Cream Ale, that’s
from a Digable Planet song. – This year’s the hundredth anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance, and we have a beer called
“Harlem Renaissance.” Looking at our neighborhoods
disappearing before our eyes, in a small way celebrating that legacy, that’s really important. Which by the way initially I was told, “You’ll never sell any beer
with the name ‘Harlem’ on it. “It’s too black, it’s too ethnic.” I’ve had brewers tell me, “Celeste, you’re wasting your time. “Black people are not
gonna buy craft beers.” I find that very offensive. And it’s baseless. But time and time again, even 2020, you know you can go into
certain neighborhoods. We already know what’s
gonna be on the shelf. Lower priced, cheap beers. There is a way you can buy something. It’s not necessarily
organic in every case, but higher quality than
other foods that you buy. That applies to beer. So this is one of the
businesses on Edgecombe County, The Chill Spot, an amazing
Jamaican restaurant where we sell our products. They’ve been very supportive
of what we’re doing here in Rocky Mount. And this amazing gentleman
here is kind enough to feature our beers on tap. – We get a whole lot of support for it. Mostly ’cause it’s black-owned and also because it’s
actually really good. – We come from a genuine place because of the experiences we’ve had. The beer industry in this country is one of the most
significant contributors to economic development of any industry. They become anchors in communities where there was nothing
and now there’s something. We wanna be able to do
that as collaborators and as brand owners in our community. We created a curriculum for a workforce development program. You know, see that brewing
and the beer industry is farm-to-glass. It’s growing hops, it’s growing barley, it’s hospitality before you
even get to these tanks. That’s a lot of different
options to think about in terms of how you
engage in this industry. – [Brianna] Right now, I think
everybody that works here is a black woman. They’re learning more about
craft beer and the industry. – You know, we’re really giving thought to not only the quality of
what goes in the beer, but who we work with, who the farmers are. Their lives, what’s important to them. I mean, we’re open to
talk to any black woman, and frankly any black man that wants to get into this industry. (smooth R&B music)

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