Female Brewers Launch Black-Owned Brewery at Rocky Mount Mills

Briana Brake & Celeste Beatty

Briana Brake, Brewer, and Founder of Spaceway Brewery and Celeste Beatty, Brewer and Founder of Harlem Brewing are collaborating to establish the Rocky Mount Brewery at the historic Rocky Mount Mills.

Two trailblazers in the Craft Beer industry, are investing in Eastern, North Carolina. Briana Brake, Brewer, and Founder of Spaceway Brewery and Celeste Beatty, Brewer and Founder of Harlem Brewing are collaborating to establish the Rocky Mount Brewery at the historic Rocky Mount Mills, a picturesque 150-acre mixed-use development on the Tar River.

Naming the company, Rocky Mount Brewery resonated with both Celeste and Briana’s commitment to celebrating local history and culture. Rocky Mount is the birthplace of Thelonious Monk, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Buck Leonard among many others.

The new brewery will begin operations this fall, and the first beers will be limited release beers that highlight the Tar River Region’s rich local history.  Briana will serve as the head brewer and CEO, and Celeste will serve as Co-Brewer and Adviser. According to the NC Craft Brewers Guild, North Carolina boasts the largest number of craft breweries in the American South, with more than 260 breweries and brewpubs. The opening of Rocky Mount Brewery represents one of two black-owned breweries in the state of North Carolina and one of less than fifty women and minority-owned breweries in the country.

When asked how they met, the founders of Rocky Mount Brewery explained that they originally were introduced in the fall of 2016 during a business panel at Shaw University. That weekend, Briana invited Celeste to her home to help brew a batch. Last year, Celeste invited Briana to participate in brewing during the Art of Cool in Durham, NC and following the seminar, Celeste and Briana met with Sebastian Wolfrum, executive brewmaster for the Rocky Mount Mills, to learn about opportunities at the brewery incubator at the Mills.

Briana Brake & Celeste Beatty

Briana Brake, Brewer, and Founder of Spaceway Brewery and Celeste Beatty, Brewer and Founder of Harlem Brewing are collaborating to establish the Rocky Mount Brewery at the historic Rocky Mount Mills.

“The Mills provided me with an exciting opportunity to explore brewing in my home state and be closer to some of our most loyal customers,” said Celeste. However, the challenge for Harlem was finding the right brewer.  At the same time, Briana had been exploring opening a brewery of her own, and the idea of the Incubator and collaboration was intriguing to her. “After being presented with the amazing opportunity at the Mills I thought of this as not only a chance to work with Harlem Brewing and get Spaceway going, but also as a chance for me to connect with family that I have in the area, and be a part of Rocky Mount’s exciting revitalization that’s taking place both at the Rocky Mount Mills and the city’s downtown development projects. I’m really excited to be living in Rocky Mount and opening Rocky Mount Brewery at Rocky Mount Mills!”

Rocky Mount Brewery will offer tastings, tours, local brewing apprenticeships and special release events as well as establishing a limited edition barrel-aging program. Eventually, the founders hope to open a cafe to highlight beer and pairings.

“We are ecstatic to have Rocky Mount Brewery join our incubator at Rocky Mount Mills. Their focus on highlighting all that Rocky Mount has to offer via beer is just the kind of unique touch that makes this place so special.” – Evan Covington Chavez, Real Estate Development Manager, Rocky Mount Mills/Capitol Broadcasting Company

“North Carolina’s craft beer industry is all about the stories behind the brews and brewers. We are thrilled to have Briana and Celeste add their unique mix of talent, diversity and past success to the North Carolina craft beer scene. We can’t wait to see what happens when NY and NC come together.” – Wit Tuttell, Director, Visit North Carolina, Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina

Thanks to RMM’s Julie Baggett for this capcom story & for these capcom photos.

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