First Black-owned brewery in Montgomery Co. hopes for national expansion

The owners of Black Viking Brewing, the first Black-owned brewery in Montgomery County, Maryland, have their eyes on expansion. The brewers hope to sell in Virginia next year and to eventually become the first Black-owned brewery with national distribution.

Currently, the business, which was founded in October 2021, distributes beers in Maryland and D.C. 

Black Viking Brewing is co-founded and co-owned by Jamil Abdur-Raoof, who is also the head brewmaster, and Shaun B. Taylor, who is also chief visionary officer.

Of the nearly 9,000 operating beer producers in the U.S., only approximately 1% are Black-owned.

“I feel very confident about our momentum right now,” Taylor said.

Montgomery County native, Taylor’s goal is to be “the Anthony Bourdain of the beer industry,” someone who travels to different breweries and shares what he learns from them with the public.

With this goal, Taylor hosts a weekly “Black Viking TV” show on Instagram where he virtually chats with brewers, distillers, wine makers and others from around the nation. Community, though, is always on his mind, which is part of why he grew a passion for beer.

“I knew I wanted to get into the beer experience for probably the last 10 years or so,” he said. “There are not a lot of African Americans in the beer space, so bringing people together is something that I naturally enjoy and am good at.”

When Black Viking Brewing launched, their beers were first sold at Downtown Crown Wine and Beer in Gaithersburg, Maryland, which Taylor described as “home base for us,” as the brewery doesn’t currently have a physical storefront location. Their products can now be found in nearly 20 locations in Maryland and D.C.

One of Black Viking Brewing’s notable signature beers is the Zingabier, which is named after the scientific name for ginger. The golden ale is lightly sweet with malty beer and spicy ginger and sweet honey notes.

In February 2022, Black Viking Brewing also released a limited-edition “Black is Beautiful” beer in collaboration with Sterling, Virginia-based Beltway Brewing and New Orleans-based Cajun Fire Brewing Company. The stout incorporated the flavor of beignets straight from Meaux Beignet in New Orleans with Madagascar vanilla beans and caramel malt.

“We’re all about inclusivity,” said Taylor, who said his goal is for the brewery to create drinks that can appeal to as many people as possible. “I love bringing people together, and beer is a very communal drink.”

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Michelle Goldchain

Michelle Goldchain’s reporting has focused primarily on the D.C. area, previously working as Editor of Curbed DC for Vox Media and Audience Growth & Engagement Editor for Washington City Paper. She is the author of "D.C. by Metro: A History & Guide.” She also reports for Artsplained on YouTube.

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