By Hollie Stephens
We at Equity Brewing love discovering other organizations that are promoting equity and inclusion in the beer industry. We hope that by highlighting some of these organizations, we will help build a strong community of advocates working to make the industry more diverse and welcoming to all. The more we support each other, the stronger we all become!
To that end, beer writer Hollie Stephens will feature individuals and organizations that are working to bring diversity to the beer industry in her “Diversity in Brewing Blog Series.” This week, she takes a look at Beer Kulture.
Promoting inclusion and diversity is a core goal for Beer Kulture, an initiative launched by Florida-based Latiesha Cook and her husband Dom in 2016. “Our mission is to continue to shape the culture of craft beer by inviting new drinkers to the party,” CEO Latiesha tells me. Dom is the author of the book "This Ain't The Beer That You're Used To," which Beer Kulture’s first UK brewery partner Cloudwater describes as “an honest, approachable introduction to beer.” The book seeks to educate people about beer from a new angle, billed as the perfect book for those who are new to beer, as well as enthusiasts wanting to dive deeper. “We’ve created a space in the craft beer industry that has encouraged Black members to educate themselves,” Latiesha explains, adding that she has recently taken the helm at Beer Kulture full-time now that Dom has moved on to focus on other things. “I’ve brought on a team of skilled and qualified board members who will help Beer Kulture go even further.”
Beer Kulture Inc. is organized and operated exclusively for charitable purposes. Using funds raised by producing beers in collaboration with brewery partners, Beer Kulture seeks to provide financial support to local charities, Black-owned businesses, families in need and underserved communities. One such example is the partnership with Green Bench Brewing in St. Petersburg, Florida. The beers that Beer Kulture and Green Bench Brewing produced together raised more than $6,000 for Building Beds, a local charity that provides beds and bedding for families in need. Building Beds has delivered 2,500 beds since their launch in 2014. “The Building Beds initiative was something that was near and dear to us because it is directly helping people in our home community,” says Valerie Niager of Green Bench Brewing. “We are SO thankful to be linked up with Beer Kulture. They are such a light in this industry, and we need more people like them.”
Funds raised from brewery partner collaborations are also used for the "This Ain't The Beer That You're Used To" Scholarship Fund. This initiative promotes diversity within the craft beverage profession through an annual scholarship program for Black/African American, Hispanic, Native North American and Pacific Islander Students.
With shutdowns and partial closures for breweries ongoing across the country due to COVID-19, it’s an especially tough time for small businesses. Despite these challenges, Latiesha remains focused on continuing to increase diversity in the brewing industry and has big plans for the year ahead. “Within the next year we intend to partner with ten breweries, creating a series of beers that will bring funds into the Beer Kulture foundation to further our work,” she says.