Paul Gentile, Founder and Co-Owner of Gentile Brewing Company on Park Street, heeded the call from Marcus Baskerville, a Texas brewer and creator of the ‘Black is Beautiful’ beer. As just one of over a thousand breweries participating, Gentile their version of the ‘Black is Beautiful’ beer last Thursday, August 6th. He sold a total of 15 cases of 16-ounce four-packs for $20.20 each and ultimately raised over $2000 for the North Shore MA NAACP Branch. The mobile canning company, State 64, the label company New England Label, and the designer, Steez Design all donated their time and materials to Gentile Brewing to allow them to donate the maximum for the project.
Earlier this year, Marcus Baskerville, Founder and Head Brewer at San Antonio’s Weathered Souls Brewing, launched Black is Beautiful, a call-out to the national brewing community to bring awareness to racial injustice. The idea was simple: Weathered Souls shared a base recipe for an imperial stout beer, along with label designs and social media directives. After making their own version of the stout, participating breweries were then asked to sell it and donate 100 percent of the proceeds to local foundations supporting efforts against racial injustice. The call was quickly taken up by 1,102 breweries in 50 states and 20 countries, Gentile Brewing Co. Being one of them.
It is clear that Paul Gentile and his wife Christen are committed to working against racism. In June, they posted a commitment to becoming active allies against racism on their website. In the blog post, they said, “For the black members of our beloved community that have been scared and stressed your entire lives, we are sorry. For staying silent too long and not saying enough when we do speak, we are sorry. For not listening or hearing you for 40 years, we are sorry. And for the members of our community that do not understand or are not willing to learn or listen, we are sorry. Black people are tired. So tired. And we are done sitting too idly by. We are listening and more importantly, we are ACTING.”
The blog then lists a number of actions they intended to take, including donating to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Mass Bail Fund; buying items from black-owned businesses, donating to politicians who can make a difference in the lives and laws regarding black communities; joining the Crafted for All community that focuses on equality within the craft beer community, and participating in the Black is Beautiful Beer project.
Juan Cofield, President of the NAACP New England Area Conference, attended the Black is Beautiful beer release with his wife Julia, along with many other Branch members. He said, “We are lucky and honored to have Paul and Christen’s active support and we are very thankful for their fundraising efforts. But the money isn’t the most important thing; it’s their mindset and willingness to work towards equality and inclusion that is a true model for everyone. Ideally, every business would operate in such a thoughtful way and utilize their voice and power within the community to bring people together like this. Plus, the beer was great!”
Nikki Moore, a Marblehead resident and member of the North Shore MA NAACP who came out to purchase the beer, said, “I loved supporting both a local business and the NAACP at the same time. The beer was also the perfect gift for my sister because…Black is Beautiful!”
Jonathan S. Carson, Gloucester resident and regular customer of Gentile Brewing Co. said, “From the beginning, Gentile made me feel visible and part of their community. Where Gentile holds my heart is their continued dedication to struggles and issues that are often overlooked; they are consistently an ally to so many who need voices. The Black is Beautiful release is just one more example of their commitment to participating in making real change in their/our community. Gentile has built an environment that is safe for people of all walks of life. My Gentile crew alone includes a diverse array of people who are black, white, Asian, Hispanic, straight, LGBTQ, rich, poor, and almost everything else under the sun. We’re all learning to be better and we are all so glad to have a shelter like Gentile Brewing to gather in. I am truly blessed to have found such a place.”