Allagash brewer Patrick Chavanelle adds corn from Lisbon to a batch of Black is Beautiful. Allagash hopes the new brew will inspire conversation about racial inequity in the state and across the country. Courtesy / Jason Perkins

PORTLAND — When it came to beginning to brew Black is Beautiful, Allagash Brewing Company’s brewmaster wasn’t just creating the company’s latest beer. He also hoped he was helping to inspire a local conversation about racial justice and equity.

“One of the real motivating factors for us is to help continue the conversation that we feel needs to happen in the country and this community,” said Jason Perkins, the company’s vice president of brewing operations. “Beer has always been communal in bringing people together.”

Allagash is one of more than a dozen breweries in Maine to offer Black is Beautiful, a new imperial stout. Proceeds from the sale will go to Indigo Arts Alliance and Maine Inside Out. Contributed / Black Owned Maine

The Black is Beautiful beer initiative was started by Weathered Souls Brewing Company in San Antonio, Texas, to raise money for organizations bringing awareness to the injustices people of color face everyday. Portland-based Allagash joins more than 1,170 other breweries across 50 states and 22 countries in brewing the beer, which was launched Nov. 13.

Allagash will donate 100% of profits from its sale to local organizations Indigo Arts Alliance and Maine Inside Out. Allagash has committed to donating at least $10,000 to the two causes. Brett Willis, a marketing specialist with Allagash, said that number could go up “based on the amount of success of the beer.”

Other breweries in Portland that have produced the beer are Austin Street Brewery, which will donate those profits to NAACP’s “We are Done Dying” campaign, and Bissell Brothers, donating to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Definitive Brewing Company and Shipyard Brewing Company also participated in the initiative, but could not be reached for comment about their beneficiaries.

Perkins said while Weathered Soul asked that the beer be an imperial stout, each brewery could add its own local touch. For Allagash that meant using their signature Belgian yeast strain, locally sourced oats and wheat and flint corn grown by new Mainers as part of Cultivating Community’s New American Sustainable Agriculture Project at Packard Littlefield Farm in Lisbon.

Allagash used corn grown by new Mainers for Black is Beautiful, a beer produced as part of a worldwide initiative to raise money for organizations that help people of color. Courtesy / Cultivating Community

Indigo Arts Alliance, which cultivates the artistic creativity of people of African descent, and Maine Inside Out, a group of artists and others who have dealt with incarceration and structural racism, were chosen as the beneficiaries for their roles in promoting racial awareness through art, Perkins said.

Allagash founder Rob Tod said he looks forward to “supporting local organizations that help create an inclusive, equitable and empowering system for all.”

“This initiative is part of our ongoing effort to make a positive impact on racial justice and equity in our community,” Tod said.

Allagash this year has donated to The Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, The Maine Community Foundation: People of Color Fund, Cultivating Community, In Her Presence and others. It has also joined other breweries in the Crafted For All project, a framework to help diversify and expand the craft beer community.

The brewery made 900 gallons of Black is Beautiful beer, which sells for $13 for a four-pack or $78 per case. The beer is available at local stores, as well as through curbside pickup at Allagash’s brewery at 50 Industrial Way.

Perkins said he doesn’t know if Allagash will create another batch of the specialty beer.

“We are definitely waiting to see on that,” he said. “Our feeling is it is going to sell pretty quickly. The beer turned out pretty good and we feel people are going to gravitate to the cause.”

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