Food historian: African cultures have long history of artisanal brewing. So why aren't there more African Americans in the U.S. craft beer scene?Historians in the News
Michael Ferguson sometimes jokingly refers to himself among colleagues as "the other black brewer."
That's because , of the BJ's Restaurants group, is one of only a small handful of African-Americans who make beer for a living. Latinos and Asian Americans are scarce within the brewing community, too.
"For the most part, you've got a bunch of white guys with beards making beer," says Yiga Miyashiro, a Japanese-American brewer with Saint Archer Brewery in San Diego....
Frederick Douglas Opie, a food historian at Babson College, says that cultures in western and central Africa have "a long history of artisan brewing." People of the region, he says, made beer from sorghum and millet, as well as palm wine – which, he says, was considered by some a luxury product.
"So, why that discontinues in America after the Atlantic slave trade, I don't know," Opie says. Blacks, he notes, often made moonshine liquor and bootleg beer in the 1920s and '30s. But these days, they're all but absent from the craft beer scene. "It could be that beer is like a lot of things in the food industry which, as they grow popular, become very hip, yuppie and white."...
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