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Craft brew event aims to break down barriers to the industry

Written by Kathleen Davis/WESA | Jul 12, 2019 4:06 AM
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FILE PHOTO: A beer is poured at the Smuttynose Brewery in Hampton, N.H. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

(Pittsburgh) -- An educational event aimed at helping people of color, women and those in the LGBTQ community break into the craft beer industry, takes place Saturday in Pittsburgh. 

The event, at the Jeron X. Grayson Community Center in the Hill District, comes from the team behind Fresh Fest, which bills itself as the nation's first black beer festival.

The craft beer world can be intimidating, says organizer and Fresh Fest co-founder Day Bracey. The Brewers Association estimates more than 85 percent of craft beer drinkers are white, and mostly male. The people making the beer are overwhelmingly white and male as well.

"People aren't marketing or even looking to the black community, or a lot of women, to be craft brewers," Bracey said. 

This weekend's event -- called Very Local, Very Fresh -- is intended to eliminate barriers for people who are left out. It's located in the majority African-American Hill District, near bus lines and is just $5 to attend. Bracey said the price point in particular is a big hurdle -- many beer festivals are expensive. General admission tickets to this year's Fresh Fest are $45.

"I'm hoping this is the first of many [events] moving forward," Bracey said. "So we can actually go into neighborhoods and say, hey, let's just go to where you're at as opposed to expecting you to make the effort to come out of your comfort zone."

Very Local, Very Fresh will feature a panel discussion about entering the industry, tastings and networking.

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