Hinterland Brewery participates in Black Is Beautiful initiative
By Josh Staloch
ASHWAUBENON – The idea just sounds refreshing.
Create a recipe for a delicious, malty imperial stout, release it across the country and then around the globe with the help of craft breweries and retail behemoth Walmart, and then use the proceeds to help fund a good cause.
When the staff at Hinterland Brewery learned of the Black Is Beautiful initiative, created by Marcus Baskerville, Head Brewer/Co-owner of Weathered Souls Brewing Co. in San Antonio, they knew they had to get involved.
“As soon as Weathered Souls announced they were doing this and that any brewery could join, one of our assistant brewers and I asked the owners, Bill and Michelle (Tressler), and they immediately said ‘Yes, let’s do it.’” Hinterland Head Brewer Jake Hornick said.
Baskerville’s vision for the Black Is Beautiful initiative is to support the Harriet Baskerville Incubation Program, a nonprofit named after Marcus’ grandmother, whose aim is to further the interest of minority and women-owned breweries, to give them get a leg up, so to speak, in an industry which is currently lacking their representation, according to the San Antonio-based brewer, who notes that “a Black man in brewing is an anomaly… there are fewer than 70 Black-owned breweries in the U.S.”
A powerful partner
The Black Is Beautiful imperial stout is being brewed by more than 1,200 breweries and will be featured on the shelves of 600-plus Walmart stores through April.
Hinterland Sales Manager Brian Harris said it’s a collaboration that works out for everyone involved and Walmart’s willingness to lend a hand, while at the same time allowing the producers of the beer to shape the initiative, goes a long way.
“I knew early on the Black Is Beautiful stout was a good fit for Walmart,” Adrienne Freeman, craft beer merchant for Walmart Central US Division said. “I felt confident craft beer drinkers would respond to the rich, malty stout. Moreover, I understood Weathered Souls’ commitment to social justice was in line with Walmart’s values, including the retailer’s commitments to diversity and racial equality.”
Ten percent of the proceeds from Walmart sales of the Black Is Beautiful stout will go to the incubation program.
In addition, 10% of all on site proceeds and local distribution sales will go to a nonprofit selected by Hinterland, We All Rise: African American Resource Center on Webster Avenue in Green Bay.
“(Walmart) kind of gave us the rules and regulations of it all but they were extremely open and helpful with it,” Harris said. “Which, you would think, for such a huge chain like that, they wouldn’t be that nimble and accepting but it really worked out.”
Weathered Souls and Walmart gave the brewers an idea of what they wanted the beer to taste like but the participants had a lot of room to add their own variations to the recipe. So, everyone’s version of the Black Is Beautiful brew is a bit different.
However, anyone assuming Hornick, who studied biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State, would use his skills and the pristine tanks, distillers and other meticulously maintained equipment at Hinterland to come up with something clever all his own, would be mistaken.
“Actually, we kind of went the other route,” Hornick said. “We tried to keep it as similar to (Baskerville’s) original recipe as possible. When we first got into this, a lot of places were doing variations on this beer, doing different things with it. But in my mind, it was kind of like, ‘We’re going to make his product, his original idea.’ My thought was, this would amplify the Black Is Beautiful voice, rather than us making our own beer and kind of making it more about Hinterland.”
In addition to area Walmarts, the Balck Is Beautiful stout can be purchased in cans at Hinterland and will be on tap there soon as well.
Find out more about the Black Is Beautiful initiative at Blackisbeautiful.beer