ALBION, Mich. — When Dan Chapin stopped by the Albion Malleable Brewing Company on Monday morning, he and Ben Wade took a sip of a new beer they’ve been working on.
“Clarity. There’s the foam. Head retention,” Chapin said while studying his glass. “The biggest thing we’re testing right now is the aroma and we’re also testing, making sure that the yeast has done its job and cleaned up the beer.”
“It’s actually a national project,” Wade said during an interview with FOX 17. “Last I checked I think there’s 900 breweries nationwide that are brewing this beer. It’s a fundraiser for Black Lives Matter, raising money for local initiatives to help combat police violence, police brutality or to help legal defenses of those impacted by it.”
Wade said the money they raise will go to the local NAACP chapter.
According to the Black Is Beautiful website, 18 countries are participating in the initiative as well. It was created by Weathered Souls Brewing in Texas.
Wade said they put out a call to breweries everywhere to see who’d like to participate in it and many jumped on board.
“I think it’s fantastic,” Wade said about the reception the initiative is getting. “The craft beer [industry] to be honest has struggled with diversity. It’s been a very overwhelmingly white industry, from patrons to employees to owners. There hasn’t been a lot of representation. So I think this is kind of an acknowledgment of that.”
Wade said the lack of diversity in the industry is an issue that’s has been talked about more and more over the last few years since the industry has grown.
He said breweries tend to be socially active but it’s been a challenge making it attractive to everyone.
However brewing beers like the Black Is Beautiful beer may be a step in the right direction, Chapin said.
“It’s an opportunity for us to be on the right side of history here,” Chapin said. “It’s important that our community supports us and we want to support our community as well.”
Chapin added that they joined the initiative because they wanted to provide patrons a safe space where they can eat, drink and talk about racial inequalities and social injustices.
“It’s all about awareness but it’s also about educating those that don’t understand what it’s like to be in other people's shoes,” Chapin said.
Wade said they joined because the initiative reflects their core beliefs. When he opened the Malleable a few years ago he named it in honor of the old Albion Malleable Iron Company that operated for 100 years and employed people from everywhere.
“It’s a big part of why Albion’s diverse,” Wade said. “They recruited workers from all over the country. They recruited Black workers from the South. They recruited European migrants from the East Coast. And we ended up with a diverse community with a lot of people working side by side and making a good living in a small town.”
The company closed in 2002. However, the diversity has remained, he said.
Wade and Chapin hope that the Black Is Beautiful beer will bring in old and new customers and encourage them to talk about what's going on in the country now and what's needed for positive change.
“We know that there’s a chance that we do risk losing some customers over this,” Wade said. “For us, it was just our values are more important than that.”