For me, it’s always a proud moment when I’m able to report on the rise and success of black-owned businesses, especially in industries not known for its ethnic diversity.
Down Home Brewing is Georgia’s first African American craft brewery, which is family-owned and operated. According to their official website, its founder Chris Reeves, has been testing his craft since 2010 and began canning beer in March 2018, alongside his business partner William Allen Moore.
“It was fun seeing people’s reactions to it, saying, ‘Oh OK, this is cool.’ Then you see the backstory behind it and we tell our story with our families and how this comes from a place of family,” said Moore, a Morehouse College School of Medicine graduate. “People get excited and can really relate to it.”
However, Reeves admits that starting the business wasn’t easy and he did go through a period of questioning himself. “During the whole time, I’m questioning myself, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ Yes,” he said.
According to 11 Alive, there are 66 breweries in Georgia, with Down Home Brewing being the only black-owned. The industry has seen a 20% spike since the new Georgia law was enacted last year, which enables craft beer and liquor manufacturers to sell directly to consumers. Brewers say there’s been $35 million in brewery investment since then – and 250 new workers in the industry.
Every couple of weeks, Chris and William brew and can their beer at Georgia’s smallest production brewery, BlueTarp, which is east of downtown Decatur.
Nancy Palmer of the Georgia Craft Beer Guild says the expansion of the industry naturally leads to more diversity and more opportunities. “I think Georgia has been long overdue to have African-Americans as leaders in this particular industry. Clearly, we could use more women in this industry as well,” she says.