Jul 19, 2023 - News

Black-owned Chicago brewery wins national award

Wood box that reads "Funkytown" on front, with two beer cans on top. Three men standing behind box and smiling.

Funkytown founders Greg Williams, Zack Day and Rich Bloomfield. Photo: Rich Bloomfield.

Chicago's Funkytown Brewery has won a national competition giving its founders access to mentorship, networking and funding from Samuel Adams Brewing.

Why it matters: Funkytown Brewery's founders wants to make craft beer more accessible to women and Black people, demographics they say haven't always been top of mind for brewers.

What they're saying: "We were always the only Black people coming to Black events, birthdays, barbecues with craft beer, and we just knew there was a lane here," co-founder Rich Bloomfield tells Axios.

Backstory: Bloomfield, Zack Day and Greg Williams grew up together in Oak Park and started brewing beer in Day's parents' garage in 2017.

  • Williams says after several years of experimenting with their brews, Pilot Project Brewing in Logan Square started serving Funkytown's beer.
  • Funkytown is now sold at over 600 locations across Chicagoland and Wisconsin, including Wrigley Field, Guaranteed Rate Field and the United Center.

Between the lines: The Samuel Adams competition considers not only a beer's quality, but also the brewer's business culture and community involvement.

  • "We've partnered with NFTE, which is an organization that focuses on high schoolers that are into entrepreneurship," Bloomfield tells Axios. "We're able to highlight and be like a turnstile for people that want to give back to the community but don't necessarily know how."

What’s next: Bloomfield, Day and Williams will create a beer with brewers at Samuel Adams' Boston headquarters to showcase at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver this September.


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