By Robert Stitt
Celeste Beatty hopes that WalMart can do for her beer what they did for Patti LaBelle’s pies. Beatty is the owner of The Harlem Brewing Company, a Black-owned brewing company that has been serving the people of the Harlem area for over 15 years.
The business, which started as a small brewery run out of her apartment, will take a giant leap forward when its beer hits Walmart’s shelves at 39 locations throughout New York. Just look for names like Sugar Hill Golden Ale, Harlem Renaissance Wit and Strawberry Hard Cider.
Beatty’s beer is entirely natural. According to the Atlantic Black Star, she even “grows hops in her backyard and on a farm in upstate New York.” In an interview with The Root, she stated, “I’m actually getting pretty deep into it.”
A WalMart exec saw one of her ads on television and became interested. Beatty was quite surprised to find out that Walmart supports a lot of local and smaller businesses. “I didn’t really know that WalMart was really a crafty retail place, but I’ve had a chance to talk to them, and I have noticed, not only with the beer, [that] a lot of their produce and other products come from local markets. So it was encouraging to see that, because … what I hear is so much of their stuff comes from China,” she said.
A spokesman from Walmart noted, “Craft beer is a growing category for Walmart. With changes in energy and labor costs overseas, it is increasingly cost-effective and efficient to manufacture closest to the point of consumption and it is just good business.” Walmart plans to invest $250 billion over the next 10 years in support of American manufacturing jobs.
Beatty believes that the exposure will increase her sales by up to 20 percent. The goal is to do well in New York and then expand to other Walmart locations out of state. The beer is already sold at Fairway Market, Whole Foods and local restaurants in Harlem.
A six-pack of her brew can be picked up for between $10 and $12.