The craft beer industry in the United States has long been dominated by white owners, but a new wave of Asian American brewers is making their mark and infusing their heritage into their beers.
Although the number of Asian American-owned breweries remains low, their presence is steadily growing, challenging the prevailing demographics. These brewers are breaking cultural barriers and embracing their identities, creating unique brews that reflect their heritage.
One pioneering example is Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina, which opened its doors under the leadership of Oscar Wong, a Chinese immigrant. Being one of the few Chinese Americans in the craft beer scene at the time, Wong faced the challenge of standing out in a predominantly white industry. Now, his daughter, Leah Wong Ashburn, serves as the CEO of Highland Brewing, continuing her father’s legacy.
Raymond Kwan and Barry Chan, owners of Lucky Envelope Brewing in Seattle, both children of Chinese immigrants, made a significant career change when they decided to pursue their passion for brewing. According to the New York Times, they took the leap and started their own brewery over a few beers one night.
Similarly, Youngwon Lee, the Korean American founder of Dokkaebier in Oakland, California, as featured also in Asian Hustle Network, drew from his heritage to create unique flavors. Collaborating with his white head brewer, they used elements from homemade kimchi to develop a kettle sour beer, infusing it with the sourness, chile, and ginger found in Korean cuisine.
These Asian American brewers are not only making their mark through their beers but also actively participating in efforts to diversify the craft brewing industry. While challenges persist, these brewers are toasting to a future where diversity and inclusivity thrive in the world of craft beer.
Featured Image Source: NY Times