We’re having a wonderful Eat Drink Local Month spotlighting people who are impacting the local food and beverage ecosystem. Let’s hear from April Dove, founder of Tha CommUnity Brew, an American lager brewed in collaboration with Holy City Brewing.

1. How did you get started in the brewing industry?

I got started in the beer industry through the Black Beer Chick’s Road to 100 Initiative which was a Cicerone Certified Beer server class. Certified Beer Server is the first level in what is the equivalent of a wine sommelier. This program opened so many doors for me and allowed me to meet many movers and shakers in the beer industry from all over the world. Each week we learned something different for the exam and it was with a different mentor. Completing this class is what fueled me to learn more and that is how I ended up going to brewery school at the American Brewers Guild in Middlebury Vermont. 

2. What’s your biggest inspiration?

My biggest inspiration is seeing people that look like me doing beer. Atlanta has a huge Black beer scene and seeing Black-owned breweries open up is an inspiration. I first knew of the Rhythm Brewing in Connecticut which is owned by a Black woman but learned that the first Black brewery was opened in Harlem by Celeste Beatty. I’m inspired by people like Garrett Oliver who is the brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery, and Marcus Baskerville owner of Weathered Souls out of Texas. In our 1% population of Black-owned breweries and Black breweries, there is a lot to be inspired by. 

3. How did you come up with Traveling Hoptista and what is it exactly?

Traveling Hoptista was thought up by a couple of friends and an old boyfriend of mine. I am a travel nurse by trade and after leaving Boston after COVID I had about 30 cases of beer in my car. I came home with all different varieties. When my dad helped me unpack my car, his first question was what were “we” going to do with all the beer, but I quickly corrected him and said “we” aren’t doing anything, and that “I” would be mixing four-packs for my friends and doing tastings. So the Traveling Hoptista is a business I started that hosts tasting of beer for people. My goal is to have a group of 6 to 8 people and pick 3-4 local breweries and provide flight tastings and education to patrons. If anyone is interested in having a flight tasting it currently goes for $199 and it includes 6 beers to try and 1 beer that the patron gets to take home. 

4. How did Tha CommUNITY, your own beer come about?

Tha CommUNITY came about while I was in beer school. During my studies, I would often visit Holy City Brewing. While there I could see what I was actually learning about in beer school and was able to get help with my studies. A few of the brewers at Holy City also went to beer school, so they knew what I was going through. Chris Brown from Holy City asked me how he could get more people of color in his taproom. At the time I had no idea but promised to get back to him. It came to me one night with the thought that beers needed to be brewed to people of color’s palate. When drinking, the beers at the brewer didn’t tell or elicit a story. There was no familiar taste that would instinctively make people think of a time with loved ones.  I went back to memories of family and friend gatherings and thought about what they drank. Heineken was my answer. I was a new home brewer at the time and asked my friend Paul to help me with a recipe. We sat in his garage and drank Heineken until we came up with a solid recipe. We brewed the homebrew of  Tha CommUNITY American lager on his system (my system hadn’t arrived yet). I took the samples to Holy City and told Chris this was his answer to his question. He loved the beer and said he could brew it on his system. We had a release party on October 1 and the rest was history.  

5. What does community look like to you in an ideal world?

In an ideal world, community would be Black and Brown faces equally intermixed with white faces in taprooms. Black and Brown owners make up at least 20 % of the breweries in the USA. More scholarships are offered to high school students to attend brewery school, giving them another option besides a 4-year degree or going to Trident Tech. We have to start young to increase our population in the brew world. Brewery owners should be going into high schools and talking about what they do and show how it’s a rewarding career. 

6. What’s next for you?

The next Tha CommUNITY. I have 5 more beers scheduled to come out this year. My next release party is June 16th at Commonhouse Aleworks. 

7. What are some of the ways the community can find your beers in upcoming weeks?

Social media is the best way. ThaCommunity.brew on Instagram, TravelingHoptista on Instagram and ThaCommunitybrew on Facebook. 

Erika Grimes