Brewing company

Black-owned Harlem Brewing Company expands in Rocky Mount

ROCKY MOUNT, NC (WTVD) — Celeste Beatty’s Harlem Brewing Company is more than a business she owns with her brothers Carl and Pernell Beatty. Spend a few minutes chatting with her and it’s quickly apparent that craft brewing is her life’s work. During a recent tour of a building she is developing for the company’s expansion, she had cans and bottles of the company’s products lined up behind the station of a future bartender.

“It’s the first beer I’ve actually launched in New York, our Harlem Sugar Hill Golden Ale,” she said with a smile. “My mom is a huge Duke Ellington fan. And, of course, we know the story of taking the A train to Sugar Hill in Harlem. Billy Strayhorn who lived in Harlem wrote that song. Again, watch beer as a place to celebrate. I used to play saxophone. So it was kind of a selfish conception. But just talking about it, it really becomes a topic of conversation.

She has big plans for the cavernous old tobacco warehouse she is renovating.

“(A) historic tobacco warehouse where, in 1946, black leaf tobacco workers gathered to vote for better jobs and better pay. So this is (a) historic warehouse. converting it into a brewing space and what we call a brewing village, to brew our beers, but to share that through opportunity and training with other brewers who might not be lucky enough to get into brewing. The Harlem Brew South Tap Room and Brewery will be brewing here. We’ve had a number of events before. We’ve had a farm-to-fork dinner here with black farmers when they brought in their produce. So that has been an active event space,” she said. “But we will continue to have these types of events, community events, music events, and of course people can come here and enjoy our beer.”

Beatty told us about the growth opportunities within the popular craft brewing industry.

“There are less than 1% of African American brewers in the United States. There are more and more people entering the market. I don’t know the exact number, it’s a small number. But we seek, through partnerships like the conversation we (had) at the Raleigh Brewery, to increase that number through collaboration,” she said.

Growing up in Winston-Salem, Beatty enjoyed cooking with her mother.

“My mum also helped me brew at home. And in celebrating the blackest, most beautiful movement she’s had during the pandemic, we’ve had the chance to go through things, talk and having real conversations,” she said, holding up a can of stout that her mother had. image on its front. “I was visiting my mom and started looking at her pictures. I said mom, how about I make a beer to celebrate you? ‘You know, honey, I don’t want this.'”

Her mother isn’t the only person she’s honored on a can of beer since 2000 when she founded the Harlem Brewing Company in New York. She showed us one with a photo of the late Gil Noble, pioneer journalist, anchor and host of “Like It Is”, a current affairs and public affairs program that aired for many years on sister station ABC11, ABC7 / WABC-TV.

“He lived in Harlem, and he also lived in Montclair, New Jersey. So I partnered with Montclair Brewery to do a beer celebrating his 40+ years in journalism and his TV show. He was a great guy. I met him several times before he died,” she said. “He has Jamaican roots (and) Harlem roots. So we made a Jamaican-style Porter that has a lot of good dark, malty flavors, with the Jamaican chili.”

Now that she is expanding the craft beer concept in her home country, plans are for the space to open by August this year. But if you’re in Rocky Mount and want some beer right now, it’s possible to get some.

“We have a few restaurants here that offer it. Larema Coffee House, Chill Spot. Of course we will brew it here and it will be available,” she said. “We first launched our beer in 2001 at Sylvia’s Restaurant, the first restaurant to sell our beer. We were very excited about it! We sell our beer to restaurants and bars in New York City. We also sell in the DC-Maryland area, in the North Carolina area We are launching in Georgia, and we sell it in on-site and off-site grocery stores Harris Teeter, Food Lion, Total Wine and various bars and restaurants .

She also plans to offer courses for aspiring brewers, as well as employment opportunities.

“All cultures, all races can come together to collaborate. Yes, around beer, but in terms of opportunities for the community. It’s something that I’m really passionate about,” she said. “What kept me in the craft beer industry was socializing. Connecting with people, being able to have conversations, gatherings in bars so that we could connect some dots around mutual understanding. That’s the part I really like!”

She is a proud graduate of Shaw University: “My particular interest was international relations. Really creating a forum where different cultures could connect and bring peace to the world. That’s what I wanted to do, but found in the brewing industry that I probably had a better chance of bringing peace and understanding to the world than the complications of politics!”

She looks forward to hearing from people who, inspired by her journey, want to learn more about craft brewing.

“You can reach me, if you want to break into the industry. If I can’t help you, I can definitely point you to someone who can,” Beatty said. “Some people may disagree with me, but if there’s really hope for people to connect, and really have a forum and a place to get to know each other better, I think craft brewing create this type of place.”

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