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Diversifying the Beer Industry “One Pint at A Time”

Rhythm Brewing Co founder Alisa Bowens-Mercado

A 2014 road trip to a North Carolina brewery sparked the idea for Aaron Hosé’s film, “One Pint at a Time.” The documentary will screen twice at the Cleveland International Film Festival in April. 

The Florida-based filmmaker and his wife/producing partner Brigitte took a weekend trip to Asheville, where the couple fell in love with craft beer. (Farmer Ted’s Cream Ale from Catawba Brewing Company was the specific brew that lit the flame.) But as the Hosés continued to explore their new shared passion over the following year, the director noticed something felt amiss. 

“When you consider the amount of people of color who are beer consumers, that makes up one third of the consumer market, yet you have less than one percent of Black people who own breweries, that doesn’t seem to make sense,” Hosé said in a phone interview. “That was the jumping off point for me to make the film about the Black experience in craft beer.”

Over the course of four years, Hosé and his team followed three Black-owned brewing companies as they perfect their recipes, hunt for brick-and-mortar locations, and expand their brew into new territories.

“I like being as observational as I can,” Hosé said. “You’re actually filming people’s lives as they grow. They’re evolving as human beings and professionals. You want to be open to sticking it out as long as it takes.” 

Hosé swept the country, traveling from New Haven, Connecticut, where dance instructor Alisa Bowens-Mercado launched Rhythm Brewing Co., to Tampa, Florida, where Huston Lett co-founded Bastet Brewing, named after the Egyptian cat goddess. 

Hosé interspersed the journey of the brewers with beer industry experts, who discuss the beverage’s African origins.

One standout is the crew behind Cajun Fire, a brewery attempting to set roots in New Orleans East. Founder Jon Renthrope started dabbling in craft beer after Hurricane Katrina and after founding his company in 2011, is still working on a physical location. The company’s plans to build a cultural hub — an on-site brewery with space for a community garden, event space and cultural museum — have been met with resistance, with neighbors lobbying for a change in local codes to prevent the brewery from being built. 

While the challenges accumulate, the wins get camera time as well. It’s incredibly satisfying to watch Lett mingle with customers in his own brewery after seeing him begin the film in his garage.

For Hosé, the progress is the point. His goal is for viewers to question their own habits: Are there local brewers they could support?

“Look around and investigate,” Hosé said. “Show them some love. That’s one of the ways we’ll move the needle in the right direction.”

Watch “One Pint at a Time’‘ Friday, April 1 at 5:05 pm or Saturday, April 2 at 12:05 pm. Tickets are $14 for film festival members; $16 for others. Moviegoers can receive a $1 discount at the box office, online or ordering on the phone, by using the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards code: AWBA. This film is the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards community match for 2022.

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