Guest Author: Alexandria Sewell
Author bio: Alexandra is a bartender, writer and photographer from South East London. She loves sci-fi films, vegan baking and currently runs Black Malt, a craft beer club celebrating diversity in the beer industry. @Black_Malt
Photography Credit: @niccipeet
Forward by Crowns & Hops Brewing Co.
We ran across London-based Alexandria Sewell’s Instagram page, @black_malt, a few years ago based on her incredible photography and unique perspective on framing craft beer. Upon scrolling her feed, you are overwhelmed with stunning images of beer, specifically her signature style showcasing her hand holding a beautiful glass of craft beer. This might not stand out to others, but for us, it was a calling card to the expanding diverse community of craft beer drinkers. The importance of showcasing her hand in most of her images speaks to the fact that she is a black woman and offers a new perspective into the world of craft beer that is also missing in the UK.
Upon connecting with Lex, we became instant beer buds based on our mutual love of craft beer and the desire to solve the lack of diversity in the craft beer industry. We felt it would be far more impactful for our new friends and potential investors to read the words from one of their fellow countrymen. Lex does a fantastic job of framing who we are and why we are so passionate about raising capital for creating this space in Inglewood, CA. Our goal is for everyone to enjoy the exploration of amazing craft beer and to continue creating bridges to establish stronger connections from all classes, backgrounds, cultures and communities. Our business model is unique and offers a new voice in the booming business of craft beer that will be a major driver for our global success.
WHY WE SHOULD CARE ABOUT CROWNS & HOPS IN THE U.K.
By Alexandria Sewell
Teo and Beny have contagious personalities. They exude approachability and warmth, not to mention their social media game (capabilities) is on point. To be around them is to be surrounded with fervour and hospitality. What's more, they're all about bringing good craft beer to as many people as possible through their fresh campaign to start the new brewery and taproom, Crowns & Hops. This is the new meaning of family.
Teo and Beny started the craft beer lifestyle brand Dope & Dank five years ago in the aim of merging the dankness of craft beer and the dope Cali (California) culture that had been missing from the scene. Using their experience in events and entrepreneurship, the duo were proficient in organising beer gatherings in unique spots, bringing music and hip food vendors in to mix with local people who weren't necessarily into homogeneous beer geekdom. They donned a cool array of merchandise brandishing their signature slogan "Black/Brown People Love Beer" to highlight the fact that diversity in beer is the new status quo. This was the start of something real, something intrinsic and uplifting to the beer scene. The context of creating a nurturing cohort of beer fans and enthusiasts alike is paramount to the duo.
With many successes under their belt, including being named as Imbibe Magazine's “People of the Year 2018” and releasing "Gotta Get It" West Coast IPA, their first major collaboration brew with El Segundo Brewing Co., was of no surprise.
This tenacity and openness is how they were able to build a base of core enthusiasts and garner the attention of one of the biggest proprietors in craft beer today, BrewDog. Teo and Beny won BrewDog's development fund last year.
The aim? To build a new taproom in the heart of bustling Inglewood, a “home away from home” for people who not only want interesting craft beer, but a space where everyone is welcomed with a sense of belonging. The crowdfunding began on the 6th of March, leading to a successful campaign in which they reached far beyond their goal of $75,000 (circa £58,000), which shows the overwhelming support from people (in North America).
But what has this got to do with us?
Bridging the craft beer gap between the U.S. and U.K. is no walk in the park. Many breweries take influence from our American forerunners, yet compared to the U.S., 0% of breweries are owned by black and brown people. (Not to discount the growing number of up-and-coming brewers in the U.K.) So what can we work together on in order to achieve? The journey took Teo and Beny on a small tour to promote awareness of their new beers, the brand, and to gather support from both sides of the pond with stopovers including Manchester, Edinburgh and London to connect with the likes of Cloudwater and BrewDog U.K.
Once the brewery and taproom are live, setting up transatlantic projects and collabs will be something on the Crown & Hops agenda. Connecting with individuals, making waves in the industry, and backing from a growing U.K. peer base will open the doors to the possibility of more breweries being opened by inspired black and brown start-ups. As Teo says, "This movement for inclusion in craft beer, along with our goal of opening this brewery is not about tearing down what's currently here...it's about building what's missing."