You know the stereotype about the craft beer market: Typically, the brewers are white guys with long beards who wear a lot of flannel as they create their newest IPA.
Eamoni Collier admits she’s totally fine with beards and flannel, but as the owner of the only Black woman-owned beer company in D.C., she’s also trying to diversify the craft beer scene in a town known as Chocolate City for its predominantly Black population.
Collier started Urban Garden Brewing last year, after making her own beer with ingredients she took from her uncle’s backyard in District Heights, Maryland. Since then, getting her beers out there has meant “lots of events, lots of just building our Urban Garden following.”
“It’s just been amazing,” she said.
But Collier doesn’t have her own brewing setup. Instead, she gets her product around the city (and briefly in Chicago) through contract brewing at other local breweries. But because of her limited ability to brew in large batches, if you looked around D.C. for some of her beer right now, you’d have a hard time finding it.
It’s a struggle Collier said: “Very difficult, extremely difficult. And it’s also very expensive.”
Her method has worked for now, though, because it’s given her a chance to sell her beer around the city and see if other people think it’s as good as she does. She said the answer has been a resounding “yes,” and now she’s getting close to signing a lease in the Fort Totten area.
“To support that process, we’re looking to raise $20,000 in order to help with our legal requirements and permitting to help speed the process along,” said Collier. “So we’re just reaching out to our community like, ‘Hey, you’ve seen what we can do, you see the passion behind this, the people behind this.’ Now we’re just asking for the help to get us to that next point so we can make this dream come true.”
Part of the passion behind the fundraising is her desire to broaden the beer industry’s customer base. She likes to put creative, sometimes even floral, spins on beers, with the hopes of appealing to both men and women.
“I think a lot of people aren’t aware of how beer even started,” Collier said. “Beer started with women. We were the first brewers. And I think beer has come a long, long way from its roots and it’s left a lot of people out. So I think it’s just important because there’s a whole world in craft beer and I think it’s important that people are welcomed into the community to find their own passions.”
She said nationwide, about 99% of the craft beer industry is white.
“Diversity and inclusion is important, especially when we’re talking about ownership and equity. We deserve a piece of the pie,” said Collier. “Those numbers have to change. And we have to begin the process starting here, right? You know that this is the nation’s capital.”
She vows that anyone who contributes to the fundraiser will get special perks and swag, depending on how much they contribute, “and get to say you’re a part of history,” too, she added.
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