People and Places: Rocky Mount Brewery

People and Places

These days there’s plenty dividing us, but there is at least one thing many of us agree on.

“Beer, craft beer, in particular, has been a great platform to connect people,” said Celeste Beatty of Rocky Mount Brewery and Harlem Brewing Company.

And that’s the case at Rocky Mount Mills, a revitalized 19th-century cotton mill now home to more than a half dozen breweries. That includes one of the states only black-owned breweries, Rocky Mount Brewery.

“I was like wow, this is like cooking,” said Beatty. “It’s like making a soup. And just fell in love with it because I had no idea that everyday people can make beer at home.”

Rocky Mount Brewery co-founder Celeste Beatty grew up in Winston-Salem but started another brewery in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood years ago.

“I think my passion for cooking, gardening. I was a Future Farmer of America student (in high school). So, the combination of things, really loving fresh food, fresh stuff and knowing that I could actually do it right at home. That’s what really fascinated me about being in the business,” said Beatty.

And the business would lead to a chance to come back to her home state, to Rocky Mount Mills.

“I was like, Rocky Mount is a little far from New York,” said Beatty.

But the pull to come home got even stronger when she met the brewery’s other co-founder Briana Brake at a conference in Raleigh.

“So, we got together, homebrewed at her house in Durham, really hit it off and decided we would collaborate on doing this,” said Beatty. “So, the Rocky Mount Brewery is a collaboration brewery with Space Way Brewing Company and Harlem Brew South.”

Two African American women, bucking the beer-making trend and potentially setting the stage for what’s to come.

“We have a number of people that work with us that were born and raised in the area,” said Beatty. “Just yesterday we had a young lady, she’s actually here right now, who we trained to actually clean kegs. We trained her to fill kegs. She’s going to be learning to brew. So, for me it’s really about, yeah, I love my passion, I think it’s great, but if we can share that process and those skills with people here locally that’s really great.”

And she and Briana are sharing that passion her at the Mills, with other likeminded brewers from very different backgrounds.

“It’s really amazing you get, the collaboration, the sharing ideas, and insights about techniques on how to brew,” said Beatty. “Just the idea of coming from different backgrounds. Everybody has a unique experience and when you do that with beer it’s really a beautiful thing.”

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