Life

Black-Owned Brands That Are Changing The Drinks Space

The Western drinks industry is painfully white. A large reason for that is that our modern ways of making and selling beer, wine, and spirits all derive from European commerce that spread around the world on the back of Indigenous and Black labor (and often ideas). But 2021 isn’t 1605 and the world of beer, wine, and spirits are (finally) changing, with more Black-owned breweries, wineries, and distillers (and blenders) working to reshape their respective industries than ever before.

To help you find and support Black-owned drinks brands, we’re calling out some of our favorites to add to your rotation. Buying your beer, wine, rum, or whiskey from these brands offers a chance to 1) drink something truly delicious, 2) engage in the history of these unique companies (while buzzed!), and 3) support the movement for Black equity and ownership in the drinks space. Check out the seven entries below and let us know in the comments if you’ve got a Black-owned brand that deserves more shine in 2022!

Weathered Souls Brewing Co.

Weathered Souls Brewing Co.
Weathered Souls Brewing Co.

The Brand:

In all of Texas, there are less than a handful of Black brewers. Among them, Marcus Baskerville of Weathered Souls Brewing Co. is the only Black-owner. In 2020, Baskerville wanted to not only make a change in the beer industry but combine that passion with social change. So in response to the killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, Baskerville decided to bridge the gap between the Black community and beer by creating a beer literally called Black is Beautiful.

The Change It Brings:

Black is Beautiful is a stout recipe that Baskerville created and then freely shared with other brewers with one condition. However brewed, the beer had to give 100 percent of the proceeds to local organizations that support equality, inclusion, and social justice reform. At the same time, Baskerville encouraged brewers to put their own spin on the recipe and to have the beer inspire conversation and awareness about the issues affecting the Black community and lack of inclusivity in beer.

It’s taken off. More than 1200 breweries are participating and have raised more than 2 million dollars so far. Weathered Souls chose 100 Black Men of Sant Antonio, TX as their beneficiary and have raised over 35 thousand dollars to provide mentorship and safe spaces for young Black men in their community. Others have donated to Humanize My Hoodie, California Innocence Project, Austin Justice Coalition, the NAACP, and many more.

You can find a version of Black is Beautiful all over the country at various breweries and select Walmarts.

McBride Sisters Collection

McBride Sisters
McBride Sisters Collection

The Brand:

McBride Sisters Collection, helmed by sisters Robin McBride and Andréa McBride John, has become an empire in the wine world. As soon as they could, the McBrides decided to give back with the hope of empowering other women to become leaders in the very male-dominated space. They created SHE CAN Wine in 2019, which is both a delicious line of canned wine and a way to support their foundation, The McBride Sisters SHE CAN Fund.

The Change It Brings:

The SHE CAN Fund awards scholarships to close the gender and race gap in wine production. To date, 42 women have been awarded scholarships worth over 340 thousand dollars. Look, I didn’t want to sip delicious Rosé all day, but I’m a good feminist. So, I’m just doing my part!

Shop The McBride Sisters Collection here.

Du Nord Craft Spirits

Du Nord Craft Spirits
Du Nord Craft Spirits

The Brand:

Chris Montana’s Du Nord Craft Spirits was America’s first Black-owned distillery and their motto says it all, “Make good. Do Good.” Montana set out to make spirits in the middle of Minneapolis that blended his wife’s rural farm upbringing with his own love of the city while using his platform to diversify alcohol distilling. Since 2020, he’s stepped up even more. When George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis, the following protests and unrest led to the Du Nord warehouse being burned down. As he looked to bounce back from the damage, Montana decided to help rebuild his city as a whole, rather than just his own little corner of it.

The Change It Brings:

In response to the tragedy, Montana founded the Du Nord Foundation to help BIPOC business owners and address racial inequities in the Twin Cities. Since then, they’ve worked to invest in rebuilding the community by providing financial support for minority small business owners and promoting BIPOC business and property ownership while still crafting some damn fine spirits.

Shop DuNord Craft Spirits here.

Crown & Hops Brewing Co.

Crowns & Hops Brewing Co.
Crowns & Hops Brewing Co.

The Brand:

Beny Ashburn and Teo Hunter, Crowns & Hops’ co-founders, don’t want to copy culture, they want to be the culture. And as such, they’ve made it their mission to blend their love of craft beer with their community. The Inglewood-based beer brand even named a beer, “Black People Love Beer,” to raise awareness and spark conversation about the lack of inclusion for both consumers and brewers in the craft beer industry.

The Change It Brings:

Ashburn and Hunter want to change beer culture to its core by being a central part of their community as a brewery and brand. They’re helping build their neighborhood by creating family-friendly spaces and providing economic growth for communities of color all while having a pretty fantastic beer in hand.

Shop Crown and Hops here.

Uncle Nearest

Screen-Shot-2021-06-09-at-2.41.47-PM.jpg
Uncle Nearest

The Brand:

Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey’s namesake is a fantastic part of whiskey history. Nearest Green started distilling as an enslaved laborer. After being freed, Green became the first master distiller for Jack Daniel and taught him how to make whiskey. While this history is little-known outside of the whiskey-drinking community, it’s always been at the core of Jack Daniel’s brand.

When Fawn Weaver read about that in 2016, she knew she wanted to honor “Uncle” Nearest Green, so she bought land in Tennesee to found a distillery. Since then, the award-winning Uncle Nearest whiskey has become the fastest-growing American Whiskey brand in U.S. history with Victoria Eady Butler, Nearest Green’s great-great-granddaughter, in the role of the brand’s Master Blender.

The Change It Brings:

Uncle Nearest is about more than just making award-winning whiskey. Weaver is working to make whiskey more inclusive for women. 50 percent of Uncle Nearest’s customers are women, chiseling away at the idea that whiskey is for men (honestly, who still thinks like this?).

This year, on the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa massacre, Weaver pledged a 50-million-dollar fund to invest in minority-founded spirit brands. They’ve given out 2 million dollars so far. You can read about that program and support it here.

Lastly, any descendent of Nearest Green is entitled to a full college scholarship from Uncle Nearest’s proceeds. That’s a powerful statement in an industry that relies heavily on heritage.

Shop Uncle Nearest here.

Black Momma Vodka

Black Momma Vodka
Black Momma Vodka

The Brand:

Vanessa Braxton is one of the first African American women to become a Master Distiller/Blender, owner, and operator of a nationally distributed vodka in the United States with Black Momma Vodka. The former engineer and Harvard graduate decided to pursue her passion for alcohol in 2012 and since then her brand has spread throughout the whole world.

The Change It Brings:

In 2020, Braxton stepped up to produce hand sanitizer, using her Long Island distillery to support the greater good. It’s a brand you can feel good about supporting as they’ve actively been a part of the solution to the pandemic we all wish would end.

Shop Black Momma Vodka here.

Brough Brothers

Brough Brothers
Brough Brothers

The Brand:

Brough Brothers is Kentucky’s first black-owned distillery. The brothers — Victor, Bryson, and Chris Yarbrough — have been working tirelessly to build a distillery and brand in the heart of whiskey country. And they’re killing it. Their first bourbon release made it onto our list of the 50 best bourbons of 2021. Beyond the beautiful whiskey they’re putting out, the brothers are also working to revitalize West Louisville and their community.

The Change It Brings:

West Louisville is the most economically depressed section of the city. The Yarbrough brothers decided to build their distillery right in the middle of the neighborhood to both infuse jobs and bring in tourism (for distillery tours). While the whiskey is great (we stand by that), when you buy a bottle of Brough Brothers Bourbon or take a tour of their distillery, you’re helping a neighborhood’s revitalization without supporting gentrification. That’s a win-win-win all around.

Buy Brough Brothers here.

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