Michigan has cut a name for itself as one of the brewery hubs in America. Estimates show that there are over 350 breweries operating in the state. Surprisingly, none of the breweries was owned by a Black man until the tail end of 2020 when Terry Rostic and Jamaal Ewing opened the state’s only Black-owned brewery.
Rostic and Ewing opened Grand Rapids-based Black Calder Brewing Company after experimenting with their own homebrews and spending more than a decade visiting and supporting local breweries in West Michigan.
“Black Calder Brewing Company was established to make great beer and provide a platform for innovation, art, culture and inclusion in the craft beer industry,” Rostic said, according to Grand Rapids Business Journal (GRBJ). “We appreciate the significance of being recognized as Michigan’s first Black-owned brewery. It’s something Michigan and the craft beer industry has been longing for, but it’s not the only thing we want to be known for. Our motto is simple: ‘Make dope beer for dope people.’”
Rostic and Ewing celebrated the opening of Black Calder Brewing Company with the launch of Black IPA. It is the first in a series of Black Calder beers to come, including imperial stouts, barrel- and wood-aged beers, fruit ales, kettle sours, IPAs, lagers and craft ciders, according to GRBJ.
“The craft beer industry was full of flavor, community and creativity,” Ewing said. “The passion that brewers, owners and staff put into creating a unique experience was refreshing. What we didn’t see were diversity and themes that spoke to the culture that we represent.”
The journey to establishing Michigan’s first Black brewery was not a smooth ride. Rostic and Ewing first met in 2016 at an event. The two soon found out that they were passionate about craft beer, community and togetherness. “We didn’t see a lot of diversity in the breweries we frequented or themes that were representative of our culture,” Rostic said.
They started initiating moves to start their own brewery and in 2018, they pitched the idea at a local business competition called 100 Ideas sponsored by Start Garden and won. As soon as they hit the ground running, they began to encounter trademark disputes and rebranding challenges.
They also had to weather their way through the pandemic to ensure the fruition of their business. “It has been a struggle to launch during a pandemic, but we also see it as somewhat of a blessing in disguise,” Ewing saID. “Our original plans were to launch with a taproom at the end of 2019, which would have been disastrous for us a few months later.”
Black Calder Brewing Company will offer a variety of beer styles focusing on imperial stouts, barrel and wood-aged beers, fruited ale, kettle sours, IPA’s, lagers and craft ciders, according to Midland Daily News and will also produce non-alcoholic beer for those who don’t take alcoholic drinks as the company grows.