Beer is a conversation starter, and Marcus Baskerville and the National Black Brewers Association want more Black people to do the talking.

Baskerville is the director of brewing at Weathered Souls Brewing CO. and a founding board member of the NB2A. He is part of the association’s charge to foster inclusivity and Black representation in the brewing industry.

His brewing journey began with a gift that sparked a sibling rivalry between him and his brother. While the brewmaster admitted that his first batches were ‘horrible,” it sparked something in him.

Baskerville followed a new finance position to San Antonio, TX, where he became active in the local brewery and homebrewer’s community. 

He recalled a moment of inspiration that came from having the chance to listen to Annie Johnson on the Brewing Network. Johnson represented a lot in the brewing community as the first Black person, woman and LGBTQ-identifying person to win Homebrewer of The Year.

Baskerville admitted he was contemplating quitting putting efforts into his craft until he heard her speak. 

“Hearing somebody that looks like me, someone from the same areas of diversity as me. Someone Black. I finally saw somebody that had reached that pinnacle of what beer was, and it motivated me,” he told Blavity.

That motivation turned into a beer that Baskerville still has on his taps today. He continued to make a name for himself in the San Antonio brewing community, introducing local bars and restaurants to new beers.

Baskerville chose to open his first brewery in the quest for something that gave him more creative control. In 2016, he and his partner, Mike Holt, opened Weathered Souls Brewery in San Antonio. In 2022, they added a second location in Charlotte, N.C.

Photo: Laws of Ace Films

Customers are met with the company’s “It’s all about the beer” motto when entering the locations. However, Baskerville says community plays a big part in that as well.

“The other main focus for us was always about community,” he said. “It was about supporting the people and community that supported us.”

With their consistent engagement with the community, Baskerville and Weathered Souls became the face of diversity in brewing.

“Diversity in leadership is something that’s always been a passion for me,” he added.

Moved by the murder of Breonna Taylor, Baskerville wanted to find a way to give back to his community and impact Black businesses as well.

In 2020, Baskerville launched the “Black is Beautiful” campaign as his contribution to the efforts supporting policy reform and victims of police firearm brutality.

Over 1,600 breweries participated in the creative collaboration using the signature stout and beer design. The campaign raised over $5 million, one of the most significant amounts for social reform from a food and beverage initiative.

Following the long-term goal of support and progression, Baskerville launched the Harriet Baskerville Incubation Program.

“This program is geared to create more ownership within beer. We teach sustainability, working with loan officers to help reach financial goals, one of the most needed resources,” he said. “We also educate participants on marketing tactics and how to work with different community and business partners.”

Along with the Incubation program, Baskerville’s participation with the National Black Brewers Association is another moving part in promoting and supporting diversity in brewing.

The NB2A was founded by Kevin Johnson, owner of Oak Park Brewery, boasting a dynamic Board of Directors comprised of around 15 Black brewery owners and brewmasters across the U.S. Black Americans own less than 1% of craft breweries in the U.S. and the NB2A is the first entity to help raise that number.

Photo: Laws of Ace Films

“The goal of the NB2A is to increase the number of African Americans in the brewing industry at all production levels, especially ownership and brewmaster,” Baskerville said.

He mentioned that the Association will also “foster” the education of the history and legacy of Black Americans brewing in the U.S.

The NB2A will also continue to advocate for effective policy and reform for Black Americans.

One of the first orders of the NB2A is the relaunch of the “Black is Beautiful” campaign that will fund the organization’s efforts.

“Black is Beautiful Vol 1 was highly successful. What makes Vol 2 different is that $1 of every Black is Beautiful Vol 2 IPA sold will be donated to the NB2A,” Baskerville said.

The organization is currently accepting applications for members looking to gain access to endless opportunities, mentorship and support.

Baskerville shared that one of the members recently “was gifted an entire brew house” to ensure he could “produce his own beer.”

Ultimately, Baskerville and the NB2A want to deplete the ownership disparity within brewing.

“I would like to see us have more of a piece of the pie, getting past that 1% to passing 5%,” he said.

He is confident that NB2A’s launch could push ownership to “2% before the end of the year and an overall goal in 10 years.”

Alongside the NB2A, the brewmaster is using his passion for beer to pour support and resources back into Black communities.

“These are the real changes important to our people. These changes can help develop our communities,” he said. “Going after that large piece of the pie is the main focus of mine and the Association.”