A Madison beer company has collaborated with a local organization to create an IPA while raising awareness for the lives of African Americans in Wisconsin.
The IPA, “Justif-i-ed PA,” was created by Working Draft Beer Company in collaboration with Justified Anger, an organization that aims to identify gaps in services and areas of need and create long-term strategies to improve the lives of marginalized communities in Madison. Justified Anger is part of a larger organization known as Nehemiah: Center for Urban Leadership Development.
This particular partnership came as a result of previous collaborations with Nehemiah founder Rev. Dr. Alex Gee, Working Draft Beer Company CEO Ryan Browne said.
“We had partnered with him because we were really receptive to his message shortly after the murder of George Floyd, taking on the mantle to educate donate and affiliate” he said. “Those were the three things Dr. Gee laid out where white allies could just jump in.”
During the summer, Working Draft teamed up with Nehemiah for the Black is Beautiful nationwide beer movement, and they decided to keep the collaboration going, Browne said. Soon, a pilot program was rolled out and after the popularity of it, they scaled it to a larger batch.
“Justif-i-ed PA is what [Dr. Gee] came up with and we thought it was fantastic,” he said. “We liked the beer so much and saw an opportunity to continue the collaboration with Justified Anger and so we decided to put it in 16-ounce cans.”
The IPA recipe was designed by Working Draft brewer and co-founder, Clint Lohman. It’s a blend of West Coast IPAs and New England style IPAs, known as a West Coast Hazy. Working Draft describes it as a “new 6.5% ABV IPA that is drier than our other Hazy IPAs & features Strata, Simcoe & Mosaic hops for a big burst of guava, blueberry & dank tropical fruits.”
Once the beer was ready, they worked with author, artist and activist Lilada Gee, sister to Dr. Gee, to design the cover.
“There were so many reasons to pursue that avenue, Lilada being artistic and her aesthetic being so colorful, beautiful and poignant,” he said. “It’s better than I could have ever hoped it would be in terms of the centerpiece for what’s inside the can and how the collaboration can move us forward with Justified Anger.”
As the artist of the can, Gee found it important to include Black women and normalize images of Black women on beer cans.
“It’s fantastic,” she said. “I’m finding that the more we normalize the images of Black women and Black girls being on products and in museums, we are really saying to Black girls and Black women that you matter and you count, but we’re also saying to everybody else that they matter and that they count.”
Gee’s work is the first to feature a Black woman on a beer can in the U.S., Spectrum News reported. That added something special to Gee.
“It’s wonderful to be part of something that’s historic,” she said. “Doing the art for the can itself was a wonderful experience for me. But once the beer came out and I started seeing Black women taking pictures of themselves, holding this can of beer and seeing the pride and joy on their face, that is what gave me great joy.”
So far, Working Draft has sold 130 cases of the beer and plans to sell another batch soon to continue the collaboration. The IPA is sold in a 4-pack set for $16.50. $1 of each 4-pack sold goes to Justified Anger and Gee.
“We’re just beyond thrilled with how the beer has been received,” Browne said. “It’s such a win-win when we can create a beer that we’re just in love with as a bunch of beer nerds and then be able to reach out and work with partners in our community, especially during these times where our Black citizens are in such a difficult state.”
The IPA is available online and at Working Draft Beer Company at 1129 E Wilson St.