Black Is Beautiful: Local breweries come together to create beer, message of unity

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis brewers are coming together to create a new flavor and send a message of unity against social injustice.

The new beer, called Black Is Beautiful, is the idea of a San Antonio, Texas, brewery that asked brewers across the country to get on board.

Crosstown Brewery is one of several Memphis breweries taking part in a collaborative effort to put their spin on Black Is Beautiful.

“It’s a basic stout; it’s high gravity, so it’s about 9.5-10%, so it’s a nice, big beer, very robust, full flavored,” Crosstown brewer Clark Ortkiese said.

For Ortkeise and other local brewers, the new beer is about more than taste; it’s about unity during a time when he says it’s needed most.

“It’s about inclusion and unity, and I was like, ‘I’ll bet there’s other people in the industry locally that feel the same way,'” he said. “There’s no sense in it just being us. Let’s bring as many as we can in.”

They joined forces with Wiseacre Brewery, Beale Street Brewery and others. The project that was sparked by Weathered Souls Brewery in San Antonio will raise funds for local organizations that focus on social justice.

Black Is Beautiful will be brewed at Wiseacre in Midtown and sold there and at other participating breweries.

“It takes about three weeks, average, to make different beers, so we have a schedule we’re working, and we had some tank time that opened,” Kellan Bartosch of Wiseacre said. “It made sense for the breweries to come over to Wiseacre and do it together as a group effort. I think that’s super important here.”

It’s a project these professionals didn’t hesitate to get involved with, knowing beer is a universal language.

“Conversation and dialogue, so that’s a universal language that people speak,” Beale Street Brewery’s Kelvin Kolheim said. “It’s a perfect opportunity to bring people together and talk about beer and other social issues.”

While details are still being worked out, tentative plans are for Black Is Beautiful stout beer to be available by July 4.

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