black is beautiful imperial stout istock

St. Louis breweries join Black is Beautiful campaign to support racial justice

This is probably the only time that you will be able to enjoy the same beer made by four different 2020 Readers’ Choice winners. Your No. 1 favorite brewery, 4 Hands Brewing Co., along with 2nd Shift Brewing (honorable mention), Schlafly (honorable mention), Side Project Brewing (No. 3 favorite beer bar) and other local favorites like Perennial Artisan Ales, Main & Mill Brewing Co., Wellspent Brewing Co. and Earthbound Beer, have joined more than 900 breweries from across the world in making a stout called Black is Beautiful.

Weathered Souls Brewing Co., a Black-owned brewery in San Antonio, Texas, launched the collaboration to draw attention to racial injustice, raise funds for those harmed by police brutality and promote inclusivity in the brewing community. Each brewery can put its own spin on Weathered Souls’ base recipe, and 100% of the beer’s proceeds go to an organization of the breweries’ choice that supports the Black is Beautiful mission.

After the protests against police brutality in Minnesota, 2nd Shift co-owner Libby Crider was looking for opportunities like Black is Beautiful. “I was feeling frustrated about what I could do to help,” Crider said. “I wanted to actually do something. This was one of the ways we could actively participate and raise funds.” 2nd Shift had been planning a brewing collaboration with beer writer Chalonda White (Afro Beer Chick), which was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, they worked together virtually on Black is Beautiful, staying true to Weathered Souls’ original recipe.

From left, Earthbound Beer's Jeff Siddons and Saint Louis Hop Shop’s Justin Harris. Earthbound partnered with Saint Louis Hop Shop to make its Black is Beautiful stout, adding coffee and vanilla to the base recipe. // portrait by stuart keating of earthbound beer

Other breweries put their own spin on the recipe, like 4 Hands, which produced a 10% Imperial milk stout with maple syrup, cacao nibs and coffee. Owner Kevin Lemp said he thinks people will be excited to try many versions of the beer. “It’s unique that every brewery that is doing this project has their own take on it. Hopefully that gets more traction to what the project represents.”

Both 4 Hands and 2nd Shift plan to make several versions and continue to raise money. “It’s important to keep the discussion going – not just throw some money at it and go on with our lives,” Crider said. “The discussion and the movement – it’s important for us to keep it going until Black lives matter.”

2nd Shift is donating the proceeds from its first Black is Beautiful stout to Black Lives Matter, and plans to donate to other organizations as it makes more beer. Along with Schlafly and Perennial, 4 Hands is donating to the Missouri Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which defends civil liberty in Missouri through means like legal advocacy and legislative education programs. Other organizations receiving funds from local breweries include Action St. Louis, Arch City Defenders and the Close the Workhouse Campaign.