Now that I have fully recovered from the weekend, I am staring at my computer trying to find the words to describe the Fresh Fest Beer Fest weekend. No amount of words in this post can truly describe the dopeness of this weekend, there are just too many aspects to hit upon so I shall try my hardest. When I first heard about Fresh Fest earlier this year, I was determined I was going to attend and vend. I had no idea what I was doing but I took that chance. I jumped on IG and Twitter and put it out there and linked up with some fellow IGers that discussed renting a house and decided that these were my roommates for the weekend. 7 strangers renting a house, most of us did not know each other outside of IG before Fresh Fest but we left with love for each other as family by the end of the weekend. So I’m sending my love to The Syndicate household, @brewingchangemn @blackandbrewchicago @passthehops @themicrobrewologist @phillanomatry @uncapeverything.
With all that said let's get to it.
Fresh Fest is the nation’s first black beer fest ever, which first kicked off in 2018 at Nova Place in Pittsburgh and was founded by Mike Potter of Black Brew Culture, Ed Bailey and Day Bracey of Drinking Partners Podcast. Collectively the idea was to bring together black brewers from across the country and to create an atmosphere of great beer, music and local food. This year it returned bigger than ever this year, by selling out 3,000 tickets, with a hard core 23 black owned brewery lineup and collaborations with breweries, entrepreneurs and artists. Admissions included an unlimited 5 oz samples with a keepsake Fresh Fest tasting glass. For those who were VIP, were treated with a chat with the beer industry’s very own legend Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery.
The fest took place on Saturday, August 10th, with events leading up to the fest. Thursday evening’s meet up was at Carmi’s a local black owned soul food restaurant located in the Strip District, where Piano Keys, a collab with Ale Sharpton and New Belgium debuted. Piano Keys an imperial stout made with Ugandan Vanilla Beans and Nicaraguan cacao nibs, wowed everyone in attendance.
A Friday afternoon Symposium took place. The State of the Culture in which the two part panel focused on diversity in the beer industry and the business side of the industry. (At this time I want to shout out to my fellow Syndicate housemates Elle Rhodes and Nasreen Sajady for doing an excellent job on the panel). Also it was Meet the Brewer VIP Podcast with special guest Garrett Oliver.
Friday night was the official Fresh Fest bottle share, which I must admit, I did not attend due to the fact that my housemates decided to host an impromptu bottle share at our AirBnB, that took on a life of its own (as you can tell from the pics below).
Saturday before the fest, the industry’s very own legend Garrett Oliver recorded a live podcast with Drinking Partners at Nova Place. Sunday, everyone said their goodbyes at the Brewer’s Bunch (which I was unable to attend because a sista had to leave for a long drive back to Chicago).
Fresh Fest was a day of love and celebration. I have to admit I was stuck at my table ALL DAMN DAY, but I was so appreciative to those that stopped by to say hello, chat it up and bring me a beer or 2. All around you had vendors and breweries appealing to the masses, with the music of local artists blaring in the background. People of different ethnic backgrounds all smiles while encountering strangers. To be honest, it felt like a big ass family reunion, as if long lost cousins are connecting for the first time. This is the platform that is well needed to push the Diversity in Beer conversation. This platform is an eye opening event to show that people of color are just as heavy in this industry and we can be successful in it as well. There is more than enough room and love to share this space.
Days later, Fresh Fest is being discussed as one of the most epic beer fest of the summer across various social media platforms. By the end of the fest, connections were made and plans to attend next year’s fest were pretty much solidified. Garrett Oliver’s tweet gave the perfect summary of what Fresh Fest was really about and with that said, that is the best way to end this post. (Mic Drop)