Brewmaster, Brooklyn Brewery
Jul 13, 2021
Brooklyn Brewery’s brewmaster is a rarity in his field: A 30-year beer veteran, Garrett Oliver is one of a very few Black faces in the industry. A 2019 survey by the Brewer’s Association found that 89 percent of brewers and 76.2 percent of production staff working within the beer industry are white.
Oliver is using his platform to change that. Feeling a sense of urgency to do something after the killing of George Floyd and the ensuing summer of unrest last year, Oliver unveiled the Michael Jackson Foundation for Brewing and Distilling last August to award scholarships to people of color looking to get into the industry.
“Garret Oliver is a legend in our industry and without his leadership in craft beer during its infancy, the landscape of beer would look entirely different than it looks today,” Matt Monahan, co-founder of Other Half, told Wine Enthusiast at the time of the announcement.
In addition to his role as brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery (where he has been since 1994), Oliver is also the author of “The Brewmaster’s Table” and the editor-in-chief of “The Oxford Companion to Beer.” In 2014 he picked up a prestigious James Beard Award, rare for a brewer, for his flavorful interpretations of traditional brewing styles.
He wasn’t necessarily destined for beer, though. While attending college in Boston, he organized concerts and stage-managed bands including R.E.M., The English Beat and The Ramones (whom he took bowling), before moving on to film school.