NORFOLK, Va. - Walk inside of Smartmouth Brewing Company in Norfolk and you'll see that the hard work is always flowing.
Employees are working in the tasting room to keep a safe environment for customers, as the country still fights the coronavirus pandemic.
If you follow the tanks towards the back of the beerhouse, you'll find a new ale brewing. The newest drink soon-to-be on tap is bringing together more than just water and barley.
It's called the "Black Is Beautiful" beer, but it's also a movement sweeping the country. The "Black Is Beautiful" initiative started at Weathered Souls Brewing in Texas.
Being a victim of racial profiling and racial injustice himself, the owner Marcus Baskerville, wanted to find a way to raise awareness about the issues. He did so the best way he knew how and that's by getting people to raise a glass in unity.
Baskerville brewed a stout to showcase the different shades of black and gave the proceeds to organizations that support equality and inclusion.
He put the recipe online and encouraged other businesses to do the same. The cause quickly caught hold in Hampton Roads.
"Pretty much as soon as we heard about it we decided it was something we wanted to be a part of," said Porter Hardy, President of Smartmouth Brewing Company. "I think a lot of brewery owners saw it as an extension of 'how can we serve our community?'"
The idea to bring awareness to racial injustices was something that Hardy and his team fully supported.
"It's important to be apart of this [for it] to be seen that we're in this together - that we're listening, we're trying," he said.
The company also recruited other local businesses like Taste Unlimited, Vessel Craft Coffee and the Bakehouse at Chelsea to donate ingredients to make the beer. The MASA Corporation also volunteered to create the "Black Is Beautiful" label.
The beer will be sold on location at Smartmouth as well as in cans at Taste Unlimited starting July 17th.
100% of the proceeds will go to the Urban League of Hampton Roads.
There are currently 32 breweries in Virginia participating and 10 of those are local to Hampton Roads:
- Alewerks Brewing Company in Williamsburg
- The Virginia Beer Company in Williamsburg
- Precarious Beer Project in Williamsburg
- Oozlefinch Beers & Blending in Hampton
- Pleasure House Brewing in Virginia Beach
- The Bunker Brewpub and Cadence Hall in Virginia Beach
- Young Veterans Brewing Co. in Virginia Beach
- O'Connor Brewing in Norfolk
- Smartmouth Brewing Company in Norfolk
- The Garage Brewery in Chesapeake