By, Charlie Williamson
Many words come to mind when it comes to gay pride: rainbows, drag queens, LGBTQ families and music. But what about craft beer? Well if two local breweries have their say in the matter, things will soon change.
Local breweries Ardent Craft Ales and Center of the Universe have teamed up with OutRVA and Virginia Pride to brew two specialty beers to celebrate Virginia Pridefest. The Georgie and the Porgie, named after the nursery rhyme, are two halves of a whole that when combined create a whole new beer.
Ardent’s “Georgie” is a light, mixed berry pale ale with hints of blackberries and raspberries. “We wanted something that would be very approachable to a large amount of people,” said Dominic Finney, a sales associate for Ardent. “We know that there’s thousands of people that come to Pridefest and with it being in September, it’s still a little bit warm so we wanted to make something they could enjoy and would be able to drink more than one of.”
On the other end of the craft been spectrum, Center of the Universe has created the “Porgie,” a smooth, chocolate pudding porter. The initial plan for the “Porgie” was for the beer to taste like a graham cracker crust, creating a fruit pie flavor when the two beers were mixed. During the process though, Chris Ray, co-owner of Center of the Universe, said they realized that they couldn’t go the crust route without adding extra extracts, so they decided to take the beer in a new direction.
Ray got involved with Pridefest this year after being approached by James Millner, President of Virginia Pride, about creating a beer for the festival. They jumped at the chance to get involved with the community, believing the local aspect of craft beer is what makes it stand apart from the more readily available beers in the market. For Finney, it was a chance to show the world that craft beer isn’t just for “white men with beards.” Finney explained, “One of the things that makes us most excited about this is the opportunity to open up the craft beer world to the LGBT community and be able to support and serve the LGBT community, especially during pride.” He is excited about the idea of showing the community that while the beer community “looks very homogenized, it’s one of the most inclusive industries I’ve ever worked in. There’s really no discrimination at all.” When asked if this would be a new trend with Pridefest, Finney said, “If we’re approached for it, we’d love to do it.”
With the wonderful success of the “Georgie” and “Porgie” release at the Pride Kickoff party at the beautiful Quirk hotel rooftop, the excitement over the beers was palpable. Gays and craft beer fans alike flooded the rooftop to try the beers and donate to the upcoming PrideFest. Attendees like Katherine O’Donnell, from Richmond Region Tourism, raved about the beers, many unable to decide which they liked better. Others that tasted the dual products, described the beers as an “amazing mix.” This palate-pleasing partnership is effectively bringing two diverse worlds together for a great cause. In a way, these beers really represent what pride is all about—bringing people together