In America, there are 6,400 breweries across the country and according to beer website Porch Drink, only 63 are Black-owned, indicating that only one percent of breweries in America are owned by Black people. Beer enthusiast and homebrewer Shannon Harris wants to increase the number of Black brewers in America. He and his wife Tiana Harris are set to open the first Black-owned brewery in Austin.
Urban Jungle Brewing will open in 2022 in the North Austin area. It will not only brew beer but it will also function as a bakery, farm, and horse rescue. Although the company is not up and running, the announcement of its opening is exciting to Black beer lovers in America.
Harris’s love for the craft started a while back but he actively launched himself into the beer scene five years ago. With the power of social media, he opened an Instagram account and plunged himself into the beer industry, collaborating with breweries across the world, from California to Florida to Mexico to Africa.
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His activeness in the beer culture and his tasty home-brewed beers have earned him some recognition. All these heighten the anticipation for Urban Jungle Brewing.
Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC)-owned breweries are scarce but Harris believes diversity is what the industry needs.
“A Black person in craft beer, whether consumer or homebrewing, is scarce,” Harris acknowledges. “Especially here in Texas — it’s Texas for lack of a better word — to talk about being diverse and inclusive is trying to say that you got a unicorn from a mile away. It’s just non-existent.”
According to a report by Eater Austin, the beer culture among BIPOC are often overlooked. They however have a significant impact on the beer industry.
“It is surprising how many breweries don’t even realize how many people of color,” says Harris, “especially Black people, come to their taprooms to spend money that help keep their lights on. But when it comes to social injustice to Black people in their community, they’re silent. “
“That’s why I’m trying to break that barrier and knock down walls,” Harris continues.
A Kickstarter was launched to help him achieve that goal. He intends on making donations through the Kickstarter and proceeds from his future sales to the fight against social and racial injustices through local organizations like Austin Justice Coalition.
Harris will handle the crafting of the beer and co-owner Tiana will oversee the bakery when the brewery opens. “It’s a team effort,” says Harris, something that he thinks is important, since “there’s not that many women in the brewing industry,” too. Tiana also has a lot of experience with farming.
Currently, Harris is rallying funds and support to launch his business because he believes they could be the needed change the industry deserves.
“We can bring something that’s different, new, and groundbreaking back to the community.
“We will be that brewery that welcomes you with open arms,” Harris continues, “when there’s racial injustice and inequality going on. We could be there for you.”