Representation matters—we’ve all heard it. When I think of the phrase, I think about the stories of my great-grandmother, Honeywood, homebrewing. Those are stories that I learned from family once I had taken on the passion of brewing myself. Those stories told me that this path and this passion may have been a little more ingrained in my DNA than I had previously thought.
I began this project because I wanted to dive deeper into the history of Black pioneers in beer and liquor—pioneers who never got the attention they deserved at the time. I wanted to celebrate their innovations and contributions to a field that I have grown to love and call home.
Also, as a brewer at Seattle’s Ghostfish—where we specialize in making award-winning gluten-free beers—I thought this was an amazing opportunity to showcase the range of these non-traditional, non-gluten malts, and how they can make all the tasty barley-driven styles that we know and love.
Besides Power to the People, I also researched, designed, and brewed two other beers in this series:
- Hemings Swan Song is a colonial-style amber that honors Peter Hemings, a chef and brewer at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in the early 19th century—and probably the first Black person to be professionally trained as a brewer in the United States. I brewed this 6.2 percent ABV ale with molasses and added some spices—grains of paradise, allspice, cloves, and cinnamon—to the whirlpool, hopping it with East Kent Goldings and Columbus.
- Uncle Nearest Whiskey Porter celebrates Nathan “Uncle Nearest” Green, the Tennessee slave who taught young farmhand Jack Daniel how to make whiskey, and who became Jack Daniel’s first head distiller after the Civil War. At 7.2 percent ABV, this smooth, dark porter gets added character from oak, whiskey, and coriander, plus fruity esters from English ale yeast and spicy, woodsy notes from Willamette and Chinook hops.
Power to the People, meanwhile, pays homage to Peoples Brewery of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Bought by former Pabst employee Theodore Mack and a group of investors in 1970, Peoples became the first Black-owned brewery in that state and one of the first in the country.
This pale adjunct lager is the stuff of nostalgia, light and crisp with notes of sweet malt and corn. It’s obviously a challenge to re-create a 1970s lager with non-gluten grains, but this beer is a great example of how you can use pale millet as a base malt in place of two-row or pilsner. I like the malty profile that pale millet brings without being overpowering, while the malted corn adds a familiar lager sweetness and contributes amazing foam and lacing. Add the balancing bitterness and a bit of spicy hop flavor from Cluster hops, and you have a lager that can hold its own against any other.
Ghostfish Power to the People Lager
Batch size: 5 gallons (19 liters)
Brewhouse efficiency: 72%
9.3 lb (4.2 kg) pale millet malt
2.7 lb (1.2 kg) malted corn
9 oz (255 g) Munich millet malt
HOPS & ADDITIONS SCHEDULE
2.1 tsp (10.5 ml) each Ceremix Flex & Ondea Pro enzymes at mash in
0.6 oz (17 g) Cluster at 60 minutes [15 IBUs]
0.7 oz (20 g) Cluster at 10 minutes [6 IBUs]
1 tsp (5 ml) Yeast X nutrient at 10 minutes
1 tsp (5ml) Irish moss at 5 minutes
Fermentis SafLager W-34/70
Mill the grains and mash at 145°F (63°C) for 60 minutes, adding enzymes at the start of the mash. Recirculate until the runnings are clear, then run off into the kettle. Sparge and top up as necessary to get about 6 gallons (23 liters) of wort, depending on your evaporation rate. Boil for 60 minutes, adding hops, nutrient, and finings according to the schedule. After the boil, chill to about 52°F (11°C), aerate the wort, and pitch the yeast. Ferment at 58°F (14°C) until complete. Crash, package, and carbonate to 2.7 volumes.
Mash & Enzymes: When adding the enzymes, first check that the temperature of your mash is not above target; mix thoroughly to ensure proper distribution. Make sure that the malted corn is well milled, without chunks, for optimal enzyme conversion.
Fermentation: Keep an eye on temperature during fermentation. If the fermentation stalls or takes longer than 48 hours to begin, raise the temperature or remove the vessel from temperature control and allow it to ferment at room temperature. The W-34/70 is stable and can ferment up to 74°F (23°C) without off-flavors.