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Good Beer Hunting

Aug 7, 2022

I first learned about Montclair Brewery during Black History Month. Since opening in 2018, the brewery has honored prominent Black figures—from Harriet Tubman with its Tubman Railroad Strawberry Pale Ale to Chadwick Boseman with its Boseman Wild Ale.

I had the chance to talk with Denise Ford Sawadogo, the co-owner and founder of Montclair Brewery, for an article I was working on for the New Brewer. While speaking to her, I was amazed at how much the couple’s backgrounds showed up in their work at Montclair Brewery—Denise’s family is from Jamaica and her husband, Leo, is from West Africa. Their culture appears in the music, programming, and of course, the beers they brew. It’s a great reminder of the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and how exposure to other cultures can increase our knowledge of the world around us while also teaching us something about ourselves.

In our conversation, we talk about how the brewery’s story began in Montclair, New Jersey, and the beautiful neighborhood which it’s named after. Denise also shares how the couples bring their culture into the brewery, including the inspiration behind their Black History Series. We also talk about our moms, their entrepreneurial spirit, and how we learned never to give up on our dreams.