Brewing beer has been around for thousands of years. Within the past decade, the craft beer business has been on the rise, with micro-breweries popping up in nearly every location that it’s possible to fit a brewing system in. Most of the business is predominantly owned by white males, with minorities and women only making up a tiny portion of brewery owners. Less than one percent of the brewing industry is black-owned, but some breweries are trying to change that.
One Pint at a Time is a documentary that follows three black brewing masters who are trying to break into the industry they love. Writer/director Aaron Hosé introduces us to Alisa Bowens-Mercado, owner and master brewer of Rhythm Brewing Company; Huston Lett, co-owner and head brewer of Bastet Brewing; and Jon Renthrope, CEO and brewmaster of Cajun Fire Brewing. They tell of how they managed to break into the business. While each of them went on a unique path, all of their stories have one thing in common: they have the same struggle of being a minority in a white-dominated business.
“…they have the same struggle of being a minority in a white-dominated business.”
Each account is quite interesting, and they all have a deep well of knowledge of the brewing business. Beyond the usual highs and lows of owning a company, Bowens-Mercado, Lett, and Renthrope have to jump through a continuous set of additional hurdles. Bowens-Mercado is not only a minority but also a female. Very few people are aware that women are not often found working in a brewery unless they are a beertender (aka taproom server). She has everything working against her.
I am all for craft brewing and have dabbled in the art a bit. I enjoy conversations revolving around beer and can listen to anyone talk about the technique of brewing. All of the hops and fermenting going on throughout the film made me thirsty for a beer. I should forewarn some: there are some politics involved when the owners describe their struggles. However, the politics are not just thrown in for the sake of being political and stirring the pot. Hosé credibly shows that for some well-meaning and hard-working folks, everything they do is a political struggle. The reasoning behind it comes apparent in the final few minutes, as it is revealed what the breweries have been working on together, alongside other breweries across the country. One Pint at a Time is very easy to watch, and it is very enjoyable.
One thing I wish was in this documentary is at least one brewery/owner from the western United States. Two of the breweries are situated on the east coast, and one is located in the south. I think there are likely similar stories across the U.S. that could have been featured, but I am sure that some behind-the-scenes reasoning made it easier to focus on the three breweries featured. I highly recommend One Pint at a Time for any craft beer lover as well as any startup business owners looking to get their foot in the door.
"…for any craft beer lover as well as any startup business owners looking to get their foot in the door."