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Raise a glass to (and with) Black and Brown brewers Saturday at new beer fest

As the City of Festivals, Milwaukee’s always hungry for a new event. Or, in the case of beer festivals, thirsty. The fresh fest organized by Radio Milwaukee’s Tarik Moody isn’t so much a “nice to have” as “long overdue.”

From 2 to 6 p.m. this Saturday at the Sugar Maple, “ Brown, Black and Brews: The 5th Ingredient” will serve up offerings from a collection of breweries owned by people of color and build on a history that beer appreciators may not be aware of.

When a group of Black businessmen in Milwaukee bought Peoples Brewing in Oshkosh back in April 1970, it became the first Black-owned brewery in the nation. A few months later, they established a foothold in Milwaukee with a complex on Wright Street. Peoples Brewing shut down in 1972 and for almost 50 years remained the city’s only Black-owned brewery.

Soul Brew Kombucha changed that in 2020, and will be one of six breweries serving beverages and knowledge at the Sugar Maple on Saturday. Alesia Miller’s business will also be the only one from Wisconsin — an issue that motivated Moody to organize the event. 

“There are a few goals,” he told the Journal Sentinel. “One is to show people who might not be aware that Milwaukee's craft-brewing is pretty white-male dominated. We want to show that people from different backgrounds are making different beers for different types of palates. Hopefully, for people of color, this can inspire a home brewer to see how they can take their craft to the next level. Representation matters.”

The full lineup includes:

For the $20 admission fee at the door, you’ll get samples and a presentation from each of the breweries, as well as art and music from True Skool, which will receive proceeds from the event. For more information and updates, head over to the Sugar Maple’s Facebook page.