Beer Kulture Vice President Khris Johnson and President, CEO, and Co-Founder Latiesha Cook • Photo via Beer Kulture

Beer Kulture Vice President Khris Johnson and President, CEO, and Co-Founder Latiesha Cook • Photo via Beer Kulture

Beer Kulture, originally launched as a lifestyle brand, has transformed itself into a nonprofit force for good in the craft beer industry, providing unprecedented opportunities for equity for people of color.

The nonprofit reaches its goals of helping educate and get people of color working in the craft beverage industry by providing internships for a diverse crowd within organizations with like-minded values. The nonprofit also operates an extensive job board, meant for organizations looking to extend their hiring net beyond the typical white male you see in the craft beer industry.

The job board has been a big pillar of what Beer Kulture does.

“The job board has been extremely successful at placing candidates,” Latiesha Cook, Beer Kulture CEO, co-founder, and president said. “Currently, there’s no way to track as people search for jobs and apply directly with the employers on our site. But there are times employers circle back to let us know that they’ve interviewed and hired a candidate from our job board. Currently from our job board, we’ve got two people [hired] at Green Bench Brewing, one person at Bells Brewery, one person at Torch and Crown, and another at Oskar Blues.”

Make no bones about it: the craft beer industry is predominantly white. Beer Kulture sees its job board as a way to provide more candidates to breweries looking to diversify their workforce.

“Creating the job board filled the need the industry had,” Cook added. “Breweries had no way to connect with a diverse pool of candidates. Because we’re a trusted entity within the community we’ve been able to connect breweries with the community. It’s exciting to see.”

The Torch and Crown hire is an especially successful story for Cook. That person had been looking for an industry job for two years before getting hired at the New York City brewery.

“Because of the job board, they’ve not only gained employment but were recently promoted into a management position,” Cook said.

Interest in attracting BIPOC candidates has been “incredibly high” of late, according to Cook, especially as the recent groundswell of truth-telling about inequity within the industry has forced craft beer to look inward. Groups like Brewing Change Collaborative, Witch Hunt, and even individuals like Notch Brewing brewer Brienne Allan are all shining a light on the ills plaguing the industry and helping to change it for the better.

“Breweries have been really enthusiastic about intentionally seeking a diverse candidate pool,” said Cook.

Running the job board, however, is very intensive.

“The job board takes us [time] to manage, and in addition to that, we offer assistance with cleaning up resumes and personally shopping resumes to breweries of interest for candidates. It is a lot of work. But it is important work,” Cook said.

Nonprofit Beer Kulture is working to diversify craft beer by connecting the brewing industry with Black and Brown candidates • Photo via Beer Kulture

Nonprofit Beer Kulture is working to diversify craft beer by connecting the brewing industry with Black and Brown candidates • Photo via Beer Kulture

As for the internship side of things, Cook has helped to place many interns, some of who have gone on to gain part-time and full-time employment in the craft beverage space. Shekayla Janelle was looking to get experience in the industry and has been able to learn through a marketing internship at Kevin York Communications.

The public relations internship has tasked Janelle with working through Kevin York to provide PR support to Beer Kulture’s marketing initiatives.

Janelle began learning about beer through a friend who ran an Instagram account highlighting breweries in Birmingham, Alabama. At 24, beer was very new to her.

“I didn’t really know too many women, specifically black women, who were interested in craft beer,” Janelle said.

As a mass communications major, Janelle wanted to get more experience in marketing.

“Kevin York and Beer Kulture gave me exactly what I was looking for,” she said. “This experience has been eye-opening for me.”

Some days she’s building influencer lists. Others, she is writing press releases. Plus, Shekayla gets to flex her creativity in social media in creative meetings as someone a part of the generation that “gets it.”

“It’s a great internship,” Janelle said. “I’m doing a 9-to-5 [job] and doing night class. My plate is really full. But I would choose to do nothing else with the free time I don’t have.”

L to R: Beer Kulture Vice President Khris Johnson; Managing Director AJ Kierans; Secretary and Kultural Attache Jason Melendez; President, CEO and Co-founder Latiesha Cook; and Head of Design Jasmine Olds • Photo via Beer Kulture

L to R: Beer Kulture Vice President Khris Johnson; Managing Director AJ Kierans; Secretary and Kultural Attache Jason Melendez; President, CEO and Co-founder Latiesha Cook; and Head of Design Jasmine Olds • Photo via Beer Kulture

“Beer Kulture itself is extremely important,” Janelle added. “What they do is very important. Giving a voice to so many people.”

Cook does not anticipate that Beer Kulture will slow down any time soon. She recently announced on Twitter that one of Beer Kulture’s interns accepted their first brewery position, adding another success to their growing portfolio of wins.

“Our goals for 2021 are to create jobs within our organization for community members,” Cook said. “We’re also really looking forward to being in a position to help launch more Black-owned businesses, as well as helping more people of color get trades and a hand up that is going to even the playing field.”