In Delaware, the craft beer industry is dominated by white individuals, leaving Black craft beer enthusiasts feeling isolated. However, Alisa “Shaggy” Gentles, a Wilmington-based IT network technician, decided to take matters into her own hands. She created the Black Craft Beer Lovers’ Facebook page with her sister, aiming to bring together the Black community of craft beer lovers. Through this online community, she connected with others and formed a new beer club called Melanated Mash Makers, consisting of four members.
The group’s main goal is to increase the presence of people of color in the Delaware craft beer world. They aim to achieve this by hosting home brewing events, collaborating with breweries, and advocating for diversity in the industry. They have already visited local breweries and attended brewing events to raise awareness of the Black craft beer community.
One of their biggest achievements so far has been the collaboration beer they brewed with Attic Brewing for the Barrel and Flow Beer Festival. The beer, called “Meeting at the Mash,” was a Belgian ale made with lemon peel and basil. It featured a unique label showcasing Black beer makers, emphasizing the group’s goal of creating a craft brew that stands out from the rest.
When it comes to selling craft beer to Black consumers, the Melanated Mash Makers leverage their cultural background to guide drinkers towards beers they might enjoy. Adena Brewington-Brown, the owner of Black Girl on Tap beer trailer, has found success in recommending beers based on what people normally drink and using familiar descriptions that resonate with them.
The group also believes that untapped audiences can be reached by focusing on different flavors and styles of beers. For example, collaborations that incorporate ingredients from Black-owned businesses or create beers with cultural references can help attract diverse consumers.
The Melanated Mash Makers are determined to show Delaware’s craft beer scene that there is a demand for more diverse representation within the industry. Through their passion for craft beer and their advocacy efforts, they hope to encourage more Black and brown individuals to become involved in home brewing and pursue careers in the craft beer world.