With a chill in the air, we are now well and truly into one of our favourite seasons. No, not autumn – Stout Season! There is nothing better than curling up with a toasty, dark brew that warms you up from the inside. And if you can drink for a cause while you’re at it – all the better!

Black is beautiful logo

You may have seen the Black Is Beautiful collab brewing initiative making the rounds this summer, organized by Weathered Souls Brewing to “raise awareness for the injustices people of colour face daily, and raise funds for police brutality reform and legal defences those who have been wronged.” The recipe is for a high ABV stout to “showcase the different shades of black,” and breweries were welcomed to put their own twist on it, while donating the proceeds to a local organization in support of police reform, legal defence, equality and inclusion.

A ton of our favourite local breweries participated and donated to a variety of amazing causes (check out the full list from around the world here!) and we managed to get our hands on a few. Jess and Michelle headed to our local park for a socially distant hang/stout sampling, and wanted to share them with all of you!

While most of these specific brews are sold out, there are still some local breweries including People’s Pint, Tooth and Nail and Second Wedge that have their take on the Black is Beautiful brew up for grabs. Or maybe you were smart like us and cellared a few! Regardless we encourage everyone to not just enjoy the beer, but check out the great causes supported by this initiative, and actively contribute to organizations working for equality and to break down systemic barriers for people of colour. Black Lives Matter even when the hashtag isn’t trending.

Now onto the beer!

Merit Brewing, Hamilton ON:
Imperial Stout 8.7% ABV

First up is Merit Brewing’s contribution, which came in their classic 500mL bottles. At 8.7% this was one of the lower ABV of our selection, but don’t let the lighter body fool you, we still got a lot of tasty flavours including rich chocolate and some toasty coffee notes. There was a nice boozy warmth to it, not too overwhelming, followed by a subtle finish.

Proceeds from this brew supported The Black Youth Mentorship Program (BYMP) facilitated by the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion. Their goal is to help improve the emotional well-being of Black youth in Hamilton. By connecting with consistent, caring adults, BYAP helps youth participants make healthy and safe choices, increase their resiliency, and progress toward their goals. 

Willibald Farm Distillery & Brewery, Ayr ON:
Imperial Stout with Coffee 10.1% ABV

Willibald Farm Brewery teamed up with Monigram Coffee Roasters in Cambridge to infuse their stout with a whole bunch of coffee. The coffee flavour was front and centre with this one and the bitterness from the coffee helped balance things out. We also got a nice caramel and mocha sweetness and some warm, boozy character too.

Willibald donated their proceeds to the Black Heath Alliance, working to reduce the racial disparities in health outcomes and promote health and well-being for people from the diverse Black communities in Canada, with emphasis on the broad determinants of health, including racism.

Town Brewery, Whitby ON:
Imperial Stout 8% ABV

Town Brewery’s take on the Imperial Stout was more light in body, with a distinct nutty taste that we pegged as pecan or hazelnut. We also got some liquorice bitterness that balanced out the sweetness for a really smooth sip. There wasn’t any boozy character here, making this one a little dangerous at 8%!

Town chose Black Lives Matter Toronto as the recipient of their proceeds. Part of the global BLM movement, this organization has been at the forefront of the movement fighting against state and police violence and anti-Black racism.

Barncat Artisan Ales, Cambridge ON:
Imperial Stout 10% ABV

Barncat Aristan Ales went for a straight up imperial stout, coming in at an even 10%. This one was thick with strong boozy warmth and some notes of liquorice. On the sweeter side and quite rich and creamy. Fun fact: the hops for this brew were generously donated by BSG.

Barncat chose to support The Michael Jackson Foundation for Brewing & Distilling, which is a grant-making foundation that funds scholarship awards for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour within the brewing and distilling trades.

Beer.Diversity, Short Finger Brewing Counterpoint Brewing, Block 3 Brewing & TWB Co-operative Brewing, Kitchener/Waterloo, ON:
Imperial Stout 9% ABV

As you can see from the label, this brew was a true collaboration in every sense of the word! Four KW breweries teamed up with Ren Navarro who founded Beer.Diversity to address the lack of diversity in the Canadian beer industry. Ren was also one of the original founders of SOBDL! We got a nice toasty character and some roasted coffee flavour as well. Very smooth with just the right amount of bitterness.

Proceeds from this brew went to The African Carribbean and Black Network, a collective in the Kitchener, Waterloo & Cambridge area focused on reducing social, political and economic barriers for people of African, Caribbean, and Black descent.

Nickel Brook Brewing, Burlington ON:
Chocolate & Strawberry Stout 6.3% ABV

Nickel Brook worked with Lori at All Sauced on this unique take on the Black is Beautiful recipe. We loved the deviation from the traditional stout with the chocolate and strawberry giving us serious cake vibes. The candied sweetness was very natural and not overpowering and a dry roastiness kept it super balanced.

Lori and Nickel Brook donated the proceeds to the Black Youth Helpline, a Canada-wide organization that serves all youth and specifically responds to the need for a Black youth specific service, positioned and resourced to promote access to professional, culturally appropriate support for youth, families and schools.

Half Hours on Earth, Seaforth ON:
Chocolate Vanilla Hazelnut Sour Imperial Stout 8% ABV

Half Hours on Earth are well known for their unique sours and complex flavour profiles, and their take on this brew was no different! The sour character was apparent but not pucker-y, with notes of stone fruit. The vanilla smoothed things out and the chocolate and hazelnut gave it a decadent, cake-like flavour.

Half Hours on Earth supported the Black Legal Action Centre with their brew. BLAC are a non-profit community legal clinic that provides free legal services for low or no income Black residents of Ontario.