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Good Beer Hunting

Jul 12, 2021

You’re listening to a special-edition, three-part podcast series about Charleston’s Schützenfest, a mid-19th-century German gun and beer festival that initially was a diverse and welcoming environment, but which gradually evolved into a site of white supremacy.

In our first two episodes, we delved deeper into both the history of the fest itself and the kinds of beer you might see around Charleston in the 19th century. Now we’ll take a more contemporary view by talking to people living in, advocating for, and brewing in Charleston today.

First, I speak with a childhood mentor of mine, Mr. Sammy Backman. Mr. Sammy isn’t a brewer. He runs Backman’s Seafood, and has spent more than 50 years fishing South Carolina’s coast. The same fundamental forces that transformed the Schützenfest have followed Mr. Sammy’s boats his whole life. But in turn, he’s thriving, and he’s taught me since my childhood about the indelible mark Gullah Geechee communities continue to make on Charleston life.

Next, I catch up with KJ Kearney, host of Black Food Fridays on Instagram, who’s worked tirelessly to help Gullah Geechee communities be better recognized and included in the Holy City. On his Instagram series, KJ educates fellow Charlestonians about Black food traditions by preserving Gullah foodways and history. We talk about the power of food and beverage history to erode racial barriers, our love for (and our frustrations with) Charleston, and KJ’s work to make things better.

Finally, I talk with Jaime Tenny of Charleston’s own Coast Brewing Company. She discusses her brewery’s need to better include new communities, and how much learning she still needs to do before that’s possible. As our conversation shows, many breweries don’t know how to foster authentic inclusion within their spaces, even if they do know that it’s on them to learn.

Join us in finishing our journey through the Schützenfest, Charleston, and the centuries-long work of racial oppression. Here’s 60-year Charleston native—and part of my village—Mr. Sammy Backman.