It’s past 11:30pm on a Saturday night at Haymarket Pub & Brewery. You can hear Chicago house music blaring from the outside, and the inside is what you can imagine. People are standing around, some dancing, some just vibing, but they’re all having a great time. 

Personally, for me, the ‘feel good’ vibes kicked in when the DJ dropped the house music classic “Move Your Body”, from Marshall Jefferson. This was the scene from February 4th, where Moors Brewing, a black-owned and operated brewery took over Haymarket for a night and turned it into a house music dancefloor. This was just one in a series of several events in Haymarket’s Black Brewery Residency, for February and beyond. 

One of my favorite moments was when one patron, wandering around and dancing with complete strangers. She carried the spirit of the party inside of her, moving from one area to another, radiating good vibes. Not to be outdone by the music, however, the founders of Moors Brewing went around offering patrons samples of their mainstay IPA and session ales. Drinking a sample cup, I was taken aback as to how crisp and brilliant the liquid was. I’ll admit that I am not an IPA person in any shape or form. I tend to go to lagers or pilsners since they’re a bit more tolerable to my tastebuds. But this IPA?


I needed a four-pack immediately.

DJ spins house music during Haymarket Brewing’s Black Brewery Residency.

Experiences like this were the reason behind this black brewing residency hosted by Haymarket for this Black History Month. I had a moment to chat with Haymarket’s Chief Operating Officer, Mike Gemma, who told me about the origins of this idea. 

“We have this West Loop location in the heart of the city, so we figured we’d invite these brewers who are trying to expand into their own brick and mortars to come down and make it their own to get that experience.”

Four brewing companies, Moors Brewing (@moorsbeer), Turner Haus (@turnerhausbrewery), Funkytown Brewing (@funkytown_brewery), and Black Horizon Brewing (@black_horizon_brewing), all Black-owned and operated, held events throughout the month of February and will continue events into March, celebrating Black history and culture.

They also came together to create a beer, celebrating the unique history and diversity of Chicago, called “Chicago Uncommon Ale”. Based on the Chicago uncommon brick, the ale represents the literal bricks and structures of the city. In collaboration with Jay Westbrook, creator of “Harold’s 83 Ale” and Haymarket’s very own “Black Beer Baron”, “Uncommon Ale” is a steady and easily drinkable beer that will have you raising a glass with friends and family. You can find Chicago Uncommon Ale on draft at Haymarket Brewery, 737 W Randolph St in West Loop, but be on the lookout for additional tappings throughout the city at a later date.

The residency doesn’t just stop with Black beer makers, however. The residency has brought in a slew of Black craft beer drinkers and aficionados as well. Personally, as a Black woman in beer, it was welcoming to be in a crowd where I was the norm and not the exception. At the Chicago Uncommon launch party on Super Bowl Sunday, I had conversations with Black beer goers who felt right at home like I did. 

The space wasn’t just to enjoy Black beers and to socialize. There was an aspect of education and knowledge as well. Mickey Bryant, also known as “Black And Brew Chicago” (@blackandbrewchicago) on Instagram, hosted a craft beer tasting and education session hosted by Funkytown Brewing on the 23rd of February. The intention was to learn about the basics and styles of beer while making it fun and accessible to everyone. The mission of her nonprofit is to diversify the craft beer industry and create a welcoming space for everyone to enjoy a beer with.

Two pints and a six pack of Haymarket’s Harold’s Honey Ale

Beer as a whole, especially craft beer, has a communal element to it. The act of creating a beer or sharing a beer is personal, people associate brews with various stories and adventures. Black folk have long been seeking a seat at the craft brewing table. In a survey held by the Brewers Association, under a half percent of surveyed breweries were Black. Having our work cut out for us, collaborating together for a residency like this one makes sense, and hopefully, it’s one of many to come.

With that said, there’s still some time to get in on the celebration at Haymarket. Black Horizon Brewing is hosting a night of music and brews on March 11th, and from there the celebration will continue at different locations throughout the city. 

In retrospect, the launch party for Chicago Uncommon was an amazing distilled experience for this residency. There was a sense of togetherness in a room full of mostly strangers. We shared stories and experiences like it was a family gathering, and we were encountering long-lost aunts and uncles. Right before the networking started, Mike Gemma was interviewed by “Beerz and Barz ”, a Black hip-hop and beer podcast duo. Mike makes a joke about the crowd being too quiet while they’re filming the interview. In response, the entire room erupted into a fun raucous crowd, hooting and hollering, and set the entire mood for the rest of the day.

Good beer sets the mood with friends and family. Good beer and being able to connect and share stories with people like you make for experiences that won’t leave you for a long time. Haymarket’s Black Brewing Residency falls in the latter and got me wanting another chance to wander around a crowded room holding a pint of beer, looking for another story.