The podcast finally gave me a chance to talk about two of my favorite things: Successful Black people and beer. A random post on Instagram hipped me to Blacktoberfest a few months before this posting. It didn’t just grab my attention because of the Black owned brewers. The festival took place in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. It’s not exactly the place that I expected to find a history-making beer festival. I grew up in North Carolina. And all the way up until I left, the Mount was a small city in the shadow of Raleigh, whose suburbs boast being one of the fastest growing areas in the country. I’m a TV news journalist by trade. And we never went to Rocky Mount for anything good, unless it was food related. But there it was, with the pictures to prove it. Plus, one man seemed to be at the center of it all – Mike Potter. He’s an entrepreneur by day. But also by day… he’s created a network to help anyone get into craft beer and beyond. It’s called Black Brew Culture.
Mike is not the type to hit you in the face with what he does. He’s a very cool and collected kind of guy. By his own admission, he doesn’t particularly care for doing interviews. But his story and the story of Black Brew Culture (BBC as he calls it… not to be confused with other abbreviations) is one that caught my attention. This guy picked up his business from a major city, Pittsburgh, and moved it to an area that is in the middle of building itself into something bigger. Admittedly to me, it’s still just little ol’ Rocky Mount. But what Mike knew something that I didn’t until talking with him. There’s a movement brewing in the area. Yes, the pun was intended. The city may very well be ground zero for Black owned craft beer makers in North Carolina. With the influence of Black Brew Culture, it may just be the epicenter for the whole movement in the United States.
This whole thing with Black Brew Culture is more than just a network of Black craft brewers. There’s a lifestyle. It’s the kind of thing that exists when Black people get together and share their creative spirit. Mike says people in the group know they have a knowledge base they can tap into (see what I did there?) for clear answers. it doesn’t matter whether they’re looking to just brew a few gallons at home or whether they hope to become a craft beer mogul. Some people want nothing to do with brewing and crafting. Maybe they want to market. Perhaps they just want to partake in what others make. Mike says there’s room for everyone at this bar table.
As for Blacktoberfest… It’s going international this year. And it’s essentially a month long. Mike is hosting conversations between beer makers and farmers in Rocky Mount. He’s adding venues in Durham, Los Angeles, and Soweto. Yes. The city in South Africa. Expanding so quickly wasn’t necessarily in the original plans. But Mike’s the kind of guy that when opportunity strikes, he’s going all in. Remember, that’s how he ended up moving from Pittsburgh to Rocky Mount. When people saw what the festival was capable of doing after year one (in the middle of a Pandemic, no less), Mike says it was easy to get people to hop on board in other cities. He says solid connections and collaborations came out of the first Blacktoberfest. If they continue, gatherings like his could be a more frequent thing. For him, it’s the more the merrier. Until that time, Blacktoberfest is the place to be for Black owned craft beer.