Pennsylvania Black Woman Is The First To Have Her Own Signature Beer With French Toast Ale
With beer being deemed essential during the pandemic, Charisse McGill saw an opportunity to secure her business.
February 25, 2021 at 5:50 pm
Despite obstacles from the coronavirus pandemic altering the course of her food business, Charisse McGill has become the first Black woman in the state of Pennsylvania with a signature beer by adapting her famous french toast bites into a delicious brew.
After establishing her french toast bites as a popular treat at different festivals and fairs around the state, the pandemic threatened to completely change how she conducted her business. Instead of panicking, McGill, owner of Lokal Artisan Foods, fixed her mind on new business ventures.
As conversations about racial justice and systemic injustices gripped the country, McGill said her supporters rallied around her endeavor of merging the breakfast bites with beer, ABC 6's Localish reported.
"We pour the bites into the mesh and the spice gets extracted straight from those bites,” she said. “They love it because they think it’s going to be stouty or dessert beer, but I say no, it’s an anytime ale. You can have it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, you can have it with anything.”
McGill said the opportunity to make a beer came at a time when she "didn’t know what business was going to be in 2020," she recalled, anticipating the aftermath of the COVID-19 shutdowns.
"In my world, no events, no people, no business,” she said.
Joe Modestine, the owner of Doylestown Brewing Company, reached out to her about collaborating her bites with his beer brand, and McGill said she couldn't get to his office fast enough to talk about developing the idea for french toast bites ale.
"We talked about a couple different iterations,” she said. “We knew we didn’t want it to be a dessert beer, because you're kind of like one-and-done. We wanted it to be an anytime ale.”
McGill revealed she never would have imagined creating a french toast beer, but she said its success is due to her innovative thinking and understanding of a changing marketplace.
“Beer was deemed essential during the pandemic,” McGill said.
She added that the accomplishment of being the first Black woman to have a signature beer highlights her purpose to knock down doors and break glass barriers.
In the summer of 2020, McGill, no stranger to firsts, became the first Black woman vendor to operate a food establishment at Penn’s Landing's vibrant tourist area that opened nearly six years ago in Philadelphia.
“It’s definitely an accomplishment,” McGill said, according to The Philadelphia Tribune. “I think it speaks to my purpose to be a trailblazer and continue to be an inspiration to others and food operators and chefs in the space because we don’t see a lot of ourselves in the top tourist attractions in Philadelphia.”
Moving to the park put the Temple University grad and her business on Modestine’s radar. Since then, McGill has been spending time at the brewery and growing her knowledge about the beer industry, The Tribune reported.
“I think it’s a fun project,” Modestine said. “We’re just excited to get it going and see how well it does.”
When it comes to keeping her business afloat during the outbreak, McGill said the key has been partnerships. With the pandemic looming last year, she teamed up with Tamekah Bost, who owns The Better Box, to add her french toast bites to the app’s dessert menu.
“The whole thing to this has been the partnerships. They are definitely more valuable than money,” she said.