October Business Spotlight: Rhythm Brewing Co.
Meet Alisa Bowens-Mercado,
Salsa Extraordinaire & Brewer
It’s hard not to be inspired by Alisa Bowens-Mercado’s optimism. Every time I’ve met or spoke with her, the professional dance instructor and brewer is unwaveringly, infectiously positive.
Even in 2020 she and Rhythm Brewing Co. haven’t missed a beat.
Two years ago, she became the first Black female brewer in the state and today she continues to be a vocal proponent of more diversity in the predominantly white, predominantly male brewing industry.
“The BLM Movement has identified the call for inclusion and industries that are white male dominated,” Bowens-Mercado says. She notes that beer is “a 114 billion dollar industry” but “people of color are getting less than 0.00005 percent,” of that booming market
Despite the challenges of a global pandemic her brewery continues to grow. Over the summer she teamed with Two Roads Brewing Co. in Stratford to become one of several Connecticut breweries and many across the country to brew Black is Beautiful a beer project launched by Weathered Souls Brewing Co. in Texas that raises awareness of injustices suffered by people of color and raises funds to help fight these injustices.
Rhythm Unfiltered Lager is the flagship beer at Rhythm Brewing Co. (the company does not have a physical brewing space but contract brews at other Connecticut breweries). As I wrote for Connecticut Magazine in 2019 Rhythm lager “is full-bodied and flavorful, reminiscent of top craft lagers such as the iconic Brooklyn Lager.” Recently, Lady Lager, as Bowens-Mercado is known in the beer world, has released some new varieties including Rhythm Blue, a lighter version of the flagship beer. Rhythm beers are available throughout Connecticut and beyond.
“Because of the demand of the brand nationally. We are currently looking into National Distribution options. It's an exciting time even during these adverse times,” Bowens-Mercado says.
However, despite her brewery’s ongoing success, she misses the beer festivals that were shut down beginning in March and the opportunities to interact with fans. “We like the human side of that, we love meeting, greeting people and sipping beer with them,” she says.
Despite the challenges the beer industry has faced in 2020, Bowens-Mercado says the time is ripe for Black and female brewers and beer enthusiasts to participate. “I would encourage anyone that’s looking to diversify the industry to jump in now! There are endless opportunities for people of color and women in the industry now more than ever.”
Written by Erik Ofgang, Senior Writer for Connecticut Magazine & Co-author of "The Good Vices: From Beer to Sex, the Surprising Truth About What's Actually Good for You"
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