Tha CommUNITY is an American lager made in collaboration with Holy City Brewing
CM: What inspired you to start brewing beer?
AD: My interest in beer started in 2012 with a trip to Stuttgart, Germany, and really took off four years later when I went to Portland, Maine, with a friend and hit 13 breweries in three days. That’s when I started going to taprooms and craft breweries regularly. One day, my boyfriend suggested I get my certificate in brewing, so I enrolled in a six-month program in January 2021 with the American Brewers Guild in Middlebury, Vermont.
CM: Tell us about your time there.
AD: Beer school is a lot of biochemistry and engineering. You have to know how grains soak up water, understand what happens chemically when something is boiled, and monitor how the yeast is fermenting. I learned so much and got to meet a lot of people in the big beer industry.
CM: How did you end up debuting your own beer, Tha CommUNITY?
AD: During summer 2021, I apprenticed with Low Tide Brewing, where I was the first woman to work “back of house,” and completed an eight-week internship at Rusty Bull Brewing Company. I was going to all these taprooms, where I was the only Black person, and established this goal of encouraging more diversity. One day in July while talking with Chris Brown, owner of Holy City Brewing, he expressed a similar desire of getting more people of color in the door. We wanted to make a brew for the underrepresented palate, and because most Black people drink commercial beer, I developed a recipe similar to Heineken with notes of corn and bitters.
Tha CommUNITY is made with locally sourced corn.
CM: How did local food blogger David White Jr. of The Dropping Pin become your community-to-brewery liaison?
AD: I met David at Munkle Brewing in December 2020 and literally called my boyfriend to say, “There’s another Black person here!” I bought him a beer and introduced myself, then began going to his meet and greets around town. When I was approached by Holy City for a collaboration, I knew David was key because he had all these wonderful local connections. I had thought, “This is going to be a baby beer; I’m just gonna get my feet wet.” But with his help as a vendor, we ended up having 150 people show up to our release night on October 1 at Holy City.
CM: Tell us about your Instagram account, the Traveling Hoptista.
AD: I was really burnt out in 2020 as an ER nurse during COVID and saw a lot of disastrous things during long shifts. During a four-month recovery after a surgery, I was able to immerse myself in beer, literally. I had a foyer full of all these cool cans, more than I could possibly drink, so I started mixing four packs and creating flights for my friends to try at parties. That’s how the Traveling Hoptista, an ongoing beer concierge and education service, was born.
CM: What’s on tap next?
AD: Professionally, I’m still a traveling nurse, but right now, I’m working on more recipes, including a Berliner Weisse with Frothy Beard. There’s also another batch of Tha CommUNITY being brewed with Holy City; it takes about six to eight weeks and should be ready early this month.