Many breweries say they want to help strengthen their communities, but few can show as much expertise, commitment and follow-through in this area as Métier Brewing. Everything from where the beer is sold, to who creates the artwork, to the choice of general contractors, reflects the brewery’s mission: “Brewing great beer and building a stronger community to inspire bigger dreams for all. »
Prior to opening Craft in 2018, co-founder and CEO Rodney Hines had a career in nonprofit organization, community development, and corporate citizenship. Critically, he also had an interest in home brewing dating back to his college days. Years later, when his cycling coach at Métier Racing and Coffee, Todd Herriott, mentioned a brewery for sale a half-hour drive from Seattle in Woodinville, Washington, Hines saw an opportunity. During a semester spent in London during his university studies, he had discovered how beer could bring more than just relaxation.
“It’s fascinating to see how art, conversation and dialogue unfold in a pub,” says Hines. “I go back to the civil rights movement and how these conversations sparked and continued in churches, basements and kitchens, and I think about the relationships between space, connection, dialogue and the ‘stock.”
Creating inclusive beer and hospitality spaces is both a professional and personal priority for Hines, who is black. “Having loved beer all my adult life, I often find myself entering [to a bar or taproom] and I don’t see myself reflected at all,” he says. “There are places I chose not to go back to because of that.”
In just three years, Métier has exemplified how breweries can infuse an ethos of social and racial equity into day-to-day operations. In June, Métier plans to take this mission to a wider audience by opening a craft brewery in Seattle’s Central District, a historically black neighborhood, in partnership with Chef Harold Fields of the Umami Kushi restaurant. Métier will also be the brewery’s partner for the development of Seattle Mariners’ Steelhead’s Alley, planned for the former Pyramid Alehouse space across from T-Mobile Park. These ambitious plans aim to welcome people who may not already consider themselves craft beer fans, not just as consumers, but as collaborators.
“The success metrics for businesses need to be disrupted,” says Hines. “The default is to only look at your revenue or gross net, but how do you look holistically and define what it means to be a successful business? I want Craft Brewing to be a new model for measuring success.
“Brew damn good beer”
Here is the word that comes up more often than any other in discussions with the Métier brewing team: integrity.
For head brewer Michael Daly and managing director Dreux Dillingham, who also leads research and development, that means brewing consistent and accessible beers. It also means researching the history and technical parameters of a style, sometimes to honor that heritage, and sometimes to intentionally step outside of it.
Whether it’s brewing classic styles like Czech lagers and pilsners or something new (like a recent spicy imperial amber lager), every beer should tell a bigger story than there is. in the glass. A story that connects to worlds beyond beer – food, art, sport, history – helps to invite drinkers who don’t consider themselves beer lovers.
“For me, coming from a wine background, one of the things I saw right away in the beer industry was the simplicity of the pitch: ‘Hey, it’s cold, delicious and hoppy’, explains Dillingham “But where can we offer more than that?”
He takes as an example one of the most popular beers of Métier, the MBC Pale Ale. The brewery first developed the beer to benefit a local nonprofit, the Major Taylor Organization, which provides bicycles and cycling programs to children in King and Pierce counties, allowing them to better explore their cities. Beer label art by local artist Damon Brown depicts Major Taylor, the black cyclist who was world champion in 1899. Sales helped the non-profit organization buy a van for transport these bikes.
“It’s about identifying a need, a goal, and then tying it to something we’re preparing for,” says Dillingham. “Let’s tie this story to this historical figure and this mission to what these children need.”
Not only does the beer tell a story beyond the liquid, but the lager recipe itself was brewed not to be too bitter or too high in ABV, choices intended to endear it to a wide range of drinkers and cycling enthusiasts.
However, those intentions to connect with more people hinge on making delicious beer, and Craft does just that. In addition to earning a solid reputation within Seattle’s high-quality beer scene, the brewery has won medals at the competitive Washington Beer Awards for its wheat beer, coconut porter and strong ale. Belgian gold.
“They don’t specialize in any particular style…so it’s hard to name just one beer they’re known for, but all of their beers are solid, and it’s a very cozy and welcoming atmosphere there,” explains Rachael Engel, head brewer at neighboring Bosk Brew Works, who collaborated with Métier on a rauchbier in 2020. “I drank their beer, and everything is excellent. The community here certainly respects them.
“Building Stronger Communities”
For Hines, who has worked for years in the field of corporate citizenship, every business decision is a chance to support other black-owned businesses and organizations.
The brewery has a general contractor, developer and black chef as partners at its Central District location. He has brewed beers in conjunction with black-owned businesses in the area, including The Jerk Shack restaurant and Boon Boona Coffee, a roaster that sources beans exclusively from Africa. His brewery project with the Mariners is named Steelhead’s Alley after the Seattle Steelheads, a Negro league baseball team that played in 1946.
Last year, Métier partnered with Seattle-based brewery Reuben’s Brews to launch the Mosaic State Brewers Collective, a mentorship program aimed at developing the talent and careers of people from underrepresented groups in the brewing industry. . Earlier this year, 11 participants in this program began classes at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business. As part of the program, Métier and Reuben’s Brews launched Lily of the Nile Chicory Stout, a beer designed by the participants. Sales support program growth.
Such initiatives may require additional effort, but Hines says the investment also supports Métier, especially during the difficult times brought about by COVID.
“It was one of the major learnings of the pandemic, ‘Oh, we’re really not alone,'” Hines says. “There is a lot of love internally within our team and externally for our community to enable us and other businesses to thrive.”
He says one of the company’s goals during this year’s growth period is to better quantify and evaluate the success of its community programs. So far, he sees the bar being used as the gathering space he envisioned: Last year he hosted his first baby shower and his first engagement, the latter between two women of color who are regulars at the brewery.
“I think about those types of experiences, and that tells me that in some ways, we’re unique,” Hines says. “But we shouldn’t be so unique.
“So what is our job to help that not to be unique for this industry? »