Local breweries to host conversations on business, diversity

CINCINNATI – A pair of local breweries have teamed up for a two-part panel discussion centered around themes of collaboration, entrepreneurship and diversity. Fittingly, they also joined forces on a special beer that they hope will help keep those conversations flowing.


What You Need To Know

  • Esoteric Brewing, Rhinegeist Brewery will host panel discussions on collaboration and diversity in the brewing industry
  • The events aim to align with Black History Month and Women’s History Month
  • The conversations will be led by MORTAR, a nonprofit that provides resources to historically marginalized entrepreneurs
  • $1 from the sale of pints of the special Harmony! brew at each brewery will benefit MORTAR

Over the next few days, both Esoteric Brewing and Rhinegeist Brewery will host events as part of the The Tapped In Talks: A Harmonious Speaker Series. A panel of experts will explore the specific topic of collaboration and diversity within the brewing industry, but also look at how those themes impact other industries and the community as a whole.

Esoteric will kick off the series at its Walnut Hills taproom Tuesday, Feb. 22. The event at Rhinegeist in Over-the-Rhine is set for Thursday, March 3. Both events will go from 5:30 to 7:30 pm

The timing of the two events aims to align with Black History Month and Women’s History Month, respectively.

The discussions are part of the annual Future History Now series put together by MORTAR, a nonprofit that provides training and resources to entrepreneurs looking to grow their small businesses. Their work often focuses on “historically marginalized entrepreneurs,” including minorities and women.

“Early on after we started MORTAR, we wanted to develop programming that paid homage to our history at the same time that we were working to build the future,” said Allen Woods, who co-founded MORTAR in 2014.

One of the first people who took part in a MORTAR cohort was Brian Jackson, co-owner of Esoteric, Cincinnati’s first Black- and Asian-owned brewery. His idea for the brewery won the top prize at MORTAR’s pitch night in 2015. Esoteric opened its doors a few years later in 2020.

“We built Esoteric believing the brewery could transform the neighborhood while being diverse and inclusive of those around us,” Jackson said. “With less than 1% of black representation in the brewing industry, we feel it’s important to break glass ceilings for everyone who’s underrepresented. We hope this will kick off conversations about social change through inclusivity and collaboration.”

In recognition of the events, the breweries have cooperated on a limited release beer. The aptly named “Harmony!” is a red rye IPA that will be served on draft in the taprooms only.

While brewed collaboratively, “Harmony” may taste a bit different depending on the taproom where it’s served. Both Rhinigeist and Esoteric have their own version of the brew. The brewers at Rhinegeist describe their batch as having a “more dank, piney and resinous flavor” with “stone fruit still having a strong presence. It has an ABV of 6.6%

Organizers said that $1 of each sale of each “Harmony!” will benefit MORTAR. Proceeds from this fundraiser will go towards the nonprofit’s Iron Chest Fund, which put more than $100,000 in grants directly into the hands of Cincinnati entrepreneurs in 2021 alone.

“Harmony is a testament to the thread of solidarity and positive growth running through the city that both of our breweries call home,” said Tracey Ireland, Rhinegeist’s director of marketing. “We’re really excited to work with Esoteric Brewing on our first truly local (collaboration). They say that ‘a rising tide raises all boats,’ and we truly believe this — if it’s good for one Cincinnati brewery, it’s good for all of us.”

More event information is available on MORTAR’s website.


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