Fresh Fest, a festival for Black brewers, makes its debut in Pittsburgh next month. It’s expected to be the first of its kind in the country, reports the Incline.com. It kicks off on Aug. 11 at the Threadbare Cider House and Meadery in the Spring Garden area. More than 30 breweries – both local and out of town – are expected to showcase their brands. Several food vendors are also expected. Fresh Fest is expected to feature 30 breweries with samplings of more than 50 beers. “For all intents and purposes, this is the first Black brew festival in the country,” said Day Bracey, one of the event organizers. Aside from Washington, D.C.’s Black Owned Wine & Spirits Festival, nothing of the kind has ever been attempted. Bracey runs Drinking Partners, a craft beer podcast along with Ed Bailey.
The Drinking Partners duo say they’re used to being the only Black people at local breweries, so they set out to do something about it, along with Mike Potter of Black Brew Culture magazine. Pittsburgh’s craft beer scene has made some strides in achieving diversity. Vice Media‘s craft beer travelogue, “Beerland,” demonstrated some of those in its Pittsburgh episode last month, interviewing local home brewers, women brewers’ group Pink Boots Society and the Drinking Partners. Those exceptions aside, the city’s brew scene remains homogeneous: there’s not a single Black brewer working in Pittsburgh. “If there were a couple of Black breweries around here, I don’t even know that we’d have a Black brew festival,” Bracey said. “We’d see more Black people in breweries, and the thought wouldn’t even have occurred to us.” When the idea first came up earlier this year, Potter reached out to some prominent Black craft brewery owners, and before long they had a dozen commitments. “If we had a little more time, we could have pulled up to 20 or 25 [Black-owned breweries],” Potter said. The next step was to figure out a way to engage local breweries and have them contribute in a purposeful way. Potter and Bracey wanted local brewers to do something more than just show up and pour their own beers, so they partnered each of the 20+ attending local breweries with a local Black entrepreneur or national brewing figure to collaborate on a unique beer for the festival and ensure a meaningful exchange of ideas and cross-promotion. Some of the collaborators include Wilkinsburg Mayor Marita Garrett. The event is open to the public. More info at www.freshfestbeerfest.com