In early June, as protests following the death of George Floyd erupted across the country, the brewers behind hyper-local Kinslahgher began asking what they could do to help.
“Our research led us to Weathered Souls Brewing in San Antonio, Texas,” said Kinslahger co-owner Keith Huizinga. “The brewery was spearheading a collaboration under their Black is Beautiful label.”
Founder and head brewer, Marcus Baskerville, of Weathered Souls started the Black is Beautiful initiative to raise awareness for the injustices people of color face daily. The collaborative effort has been embraced globally and today stout beers sold under the label are intended to raise funds for police reform and legal defenses for those who have been wronged.
Huizinga and his business partners Steve Loranz and Neal Armstrong jumped on board and turned recipe development over to their lead brewer, Russhane Dawkins
Weathered Souls provided a recipe for a stout base but urged participating breweries to put their own spin on it noting “the sky is the limit as far as creativity” on their website.
Dawkins opted to brew a beer that was both true to Kinslahger’s passion for lager fermented beers and gave a nod his own Jamaican roots — Dawkins emigrated to the United States from Jamaica 10 years ago.
“Having Russhane take the lead on this felt natural.” said Huizinga. “It was a great way to get him more involved in the recipe development process and brew a beer he had a personal connection to.”
Tropical stouts, sold under popular Dragon and Jamaica brands in Jamaica, are not fruit based, but are a style of extra-stout popular in the Caribbean. Guinness, a well-known stout beer, is low in alcohol, dry and light despite its dark color. By contrast a tropical stout is sweeter, richer in body and higher in alcohol content. Kinslahger’s Black is Beautiful Beer has an abv of 6.0 percent.
While Weathered Souls Brewery is donating their proceeds to the Know Your Rights Camp, other breweries crafting a beer as part of the collaboration are free to direct their proceeds toward a local organization of their choosing that supports equality and inclusion.
Dawkins, who has a personal connection to the organization, suggested Kinslahger donate proceeds to The Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights. Established in 1969, the organization, uses the power of law to give a voice to people most impacted by civil rights issues including discrimination, racism, and economic oppression. Ten dollars from the sale of each four pack will be donated to The Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights.
“Having a can of beer in someone’s hand with this label on it will keep this subject on people’s minds long after the protests subside,” said Huizinga.
Kinslahger’s Black is Beautiful Tropical Stout is available for curb side pick-up and local delivery via their website. Additionally, it is sold at Flapjack Brewery in Berwyn and Exit Strategy in Forest Park.
More than 1,000 brewers from around the world have joined the effort including One Lake Brewing in Oak Park.
“Our brewery is situated on the boarder of Chicago and Oak Park,” said One Lake co-owner, Kristen Alfonsi. “We want to use our craft to keep the momentum of the Black Lives Matter Movement going.”
One Lake is brewing a black beer based on Weathered Souls recipe now and it will be available in six weeks on draught on their rooftop or in crowlers to go.
One hundred percent of the profits from the sale of One Lake’s Black is Beautiful Beer will go toward My Block My Hood My City, a Chicago based non-profit whose mission is to provide “underprivileged youth with an awareness of the world and opportunities beyond their neighborhood.”