Founders to Release “Black Is Beautiful” Beer in July

The brewery has been accused of racism in the past

Founders Black Is Beautiful peanut butter fudge stout
Can Founders' new "Black Is Beautiful" beer make up for the past?

Founders Brewing announced it is teaming up with Weathered Souls Brewing Co., a Black-owned brewery, for its Black Is Beautiful campaign by launching an eponymous Peanut Butter Fudge Stout on July 24 to help raise money and awareness for police reform and racial justice.

The 6.8% ABV “Black Is Beautiful” stout, which will be available in six-pack bottles and on draft exclusively at the brewery’s Grand Rapids and Detroit taprooms, is described by Founders thusly: “Chocolate malts, roasted barley and Golden Naked oats mingle with Nugget and Perle hops as semi-sweet chocolate and hints of roasted peanut team up to create a smooth, yet not overly sweet, experience — a peanut butter cup in a glass.”

As part of the Black Is Beautiful initiative, Founders will “donate to local foundations that support police brutality reform and legal defenses for those who have been wronged, donate to local organizations that support equality and inclusion, commit to the long-term work of equality.” The company also announced it is donating $25,000 to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Of course, Founders has a complicated history when it comes to race, to say the least. After Tracy Evans, a former Founders employee who is Black, filed a racial discrimination lawsuit claiming that his white coworkers repeatedly used the N-word around him and were excused by a “a racist internal corporate culture,” former Founders Detroit general manager Dominic Ryan dug his heels in and actually claimed he had no idea Evans was Black. When pressed by Evans’s lawyer, Ryan also claimed he didn’t know Barack Obama and Michael Jordan are Black because he’s “never met them.”

It’s worth noting that Ryan is no longer with the company, but it does raise questions about Founders’ intentions with this “Black Is Beautiful” beer. Is it simply a PR move to save face after a public racism scandal, or a genuine attempt to move in the right direction and correct previous poor behavior? That remains to be seen, but as of June 30, 913 breweries in 50 states and 17 countries have signed onto the Black Is Beautiful collaboration.

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