Apologies if this is naive of me, but I grew up thinking that beer drinking was a white man’s lane. I wasn’t even introduced to beer until I went to my first field party out in the sticks, and it was Natty Lite (take that as you will). Now that I’m older, wiser, & have discovered my love for craft beer, I’m thankful for the many options this city totes—and I’m even more excited for the newest beers that have popped up, because they’re tasty and brewed by someone who reps people like me.
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“Stereotypically, when it comes to drinking beer, Black people are associated with drinking malt liquor, 40-ounce beverages,” said Kelvin Kolheim, Founder of Beale St. Brewing Company. “Someone told me the other day that just by us being recognized as black-owned brewery in Memphis, it introduces craft beer to an entirely different demographic of people who may have not been paying attention to it.”
Beale St. Brewing Company, Memphis’ first black-owned brewery, launched with four beers in 2020. Fast forward to 2021, they’ve participated in regional collabs, dropped a merch line, brought 8Ball & MJG out for a beer tour—and recently added two new brews to the lineup, the Born Under a Bad Sign Memphis Mule Session IPA & the Rookie of the Year Hazy India Pale Ale.
“I’m not a brewmaster, nor am I a chef, but I did grow up in the kitchen helping my mom cook,” Kolheim said. “I went to culinary school six years ago, and I do catering—and when I realized that I could manipulate the flavors in beer like I could with food…I don’t want to say ‘Oh, sh**,’ but it was like an oh sh** moment for me.”
Before the Memphis native put his brew hat on, he worked as the Director of Economic Development with the Greater Memphis Chamber—and although it may seem like he’s completely switched gears, he’s still running in the same lane, just with different shoes on.
“At the Chamber, I was an ambassador of Memphis,” Kolheim said. “And with the Brewery, we’re an ambassador of Memphis. We want to be a part of the “What’s Right with Memphis” conversation. We want to be a brewery that Memphis can hang it’s hat on, and be proud of. It’s really about celebrating Memphis through the love of craft beer.”
With each beer they’ve released so far, they’re letting folks know they hail from Memphis, Mane. “Centsational” is direct nod to local basketball legend Penny Hardaway, and “Space Age Sippin'”shows love for 8Ball & MJG, a Memphis-bred hip-hop duo who set the tone for Southern rap. “528hz of Love & Hoppiness,” “Memphis All Day Errday,” and “Hopnotizing Minds” pays respect to Memphis moguls Al Green, Issac Hayes, and Three 6 Mafia.
With these two new releases, Born Under a Bad Sign IPA not only acknowledges the resilience that many have had in the face of the adversity of 2020, but also honors blues legend Albert King’s first album released by Stax Records. Rookie of the Year, however, pays homage to Ja Morant, the young, high-flying superhero who has taken our city and the basketball world by storm.
With many salutes to Memphis music, it only makes sense to enjoy your sips with sounds.
They’ve paired Space Age Sippin’ with “Green Onions” by Booker T. & the M.G.s and “Space Age Pimpin'” by 8Ball & MJG, 528hz of Love & Hoppiness with “Love and Happiness” by Al Green and “Imagine” by John Lennon, and Memphis All Day Errday with “Drivin in the Sun” by Issac Hayes and “Da Summa” by Three 6 Mafia. Three 6’s “Who Run It” and “Motivated” are also the sounds for sippin’ “Hopnotizing.” Born Under A Bad Sign, or BUBS, pairs well with “Born Under a Bad Sign” by Albert King, rightfully so—and Rookie of the Year matches the vibe of “Look Alive” by Blocboy JB ft. Drake.