Eugenia Brown, aka @blackbeerchick, aka Ugie (U.G.) is doing so much for women of color in the craft beer industry. What started as an Instagram persona to connect to people who look like her in the industry has become a vital and helpful tool for many. Eugenia created the initiative known as Road to 50, which was matched by the Cicerone Certification Program to become Road to 100, which gives women of color full scholarships to earn their Certified Beer Server certificate. This initiative is so crucial to further diversifying the craft beer industry because it is getting women the power they need to succeed: education!
Ugie was introduced to craft beer while attending the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. “I grew up in a family that drank beer, but not craft. Exposure early on to beer was different.” Eugenia’s family would drink at cookouts and family parties. The concept of a brewery taproom was foreign to her, but it totally fit her vibe: “laidback and chill.”
It wasn’t until her relocation to Charlotte, NC that she got more involved in the craft beer scene. In a city that has more breweries than one could handle, Ugie wanted to learn everything she possibly could about craft beer. She stumbled upon the Cicerone Certification Program and from there, it was on.
A local spot, Pilot Brewing, was hosting beer education classes, which Ugie attended. She hooked up with a gal named Jen and the two became friends and Jen eventually offered Ugie a position at Pilot, where she was able to bartend and gain some exposure to the brewing aspect of the business.
While getting into craft beer culture, Ugie addressed the elephant in the room. She was sort of used to being the “token black girl” at the brewery. She thought, “What can I do? What difference can I make?”
That’s when the passion project of @blackbeerchick became a business, as Ugie registered it as an LLC. By communicating and expanding her brand, she found that a lot more people that look like her were into craft beer. “The focus of Beer Chick LLC has been to empower, connect and support women of color … to change the narrative of people of color who want to work in the industry. We are here, we are not unicorns.”
“Less Barriers, More Bridges” is the motto Ugie used going into this project. “How did I get into the beer industry? Education. I want to bring more women of color to the table with me. Our uncles, dads, cousins… we don’t own breweries. It’s new to our culture. But what we can bring to the table is education and knowledge, to get our foot in the door.”
Ugie created T-shirts to raise funds for what she needed to sponsor 50 women for their Certified Beer Server exam, which costs $70 per person. When the Cicerone Certification Program caught wind of the project, they were delighted and matched Ugie’s contribution, now allowing 100 women to apply for the educational opportunity.
Ugie has opened the application for a partial scholarship for women to obtain their Level 2 Certified Cicerone® exam, which is a far more expensive and in-depth course, with a written test and a blind tasting segment. If you’d like to learn more on how to apply, click here.
Looking forward to 2021, Ugie has hopes of getting the women who earned their education job placements in the craft beer job market. “How do we help them get jobs in the industry? All aspects of jobs in the brewing industry is important.”
Follow @blackbeerchick on Instagram – Support Beer Chick LLC and grab yourself some merch – or you can donate to support Ugie and Beer Chick LLC’s cause to support women’s education in the beer industry!
Also, be sure to check out the IG @blackgirlsdrinkbeertoo – a movement that spotlights women of color in the beer industry and shares their stories.
Photo courtesy and property of Beer Chick LLC.