Black-owned Funkytown Brewery in Logan Square targets new beer drinkers

Less than 1% of breweries are Black-owned

ByRob Elgas and Blanca Rios WLS logo
Tuesday, February 21, 2023
90s hip-hop inspired brewery targets new beer drinkers
The Black-owned Funkytown Brewery in Logan Square focuses on community and the new beer drinker.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Three lifelong friends from Oak Park crafted a beer-making hobby into a business that reflects their love for 90s hip hop, and they call it Funkytown Brewery.

"The word funky, we realized it was used for generations and the word town is community and we're always focused on community," said Greg Williams, Funkytown's co-founder and sales director.

Their flagship beer is an American Pale Ale called "Hip-Hops and R&Brew." Reminiscent of an artist's first album, the can's design features the faces of the hip-hop group The Fugees.

Knowing less than 1% of the breweries across the country are Black-owned, Rich Bloomfield, Greg Williams and Zach Day moved from a home-brewing business in their garage, to landing a spot at the Pilot Project Brewing, an incubator in Logan Square and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Pilot Project serves as a launch pad for start-up breweries.

"Their whole goal is to lower the barriers of entry, the capital cost for space, and then the equipment, sales team, the distribution team - it's hard for people to boot strap on their own," said Rich Bloomfield, Funktyown's co-founder and CEO.

Funkytown is the only Black-owned brewery that actually makes their beer in Chicago. Their main target group is new beer drinkers.

"We create palatable beers, low ABV, low bitterness, low astringency," said Williams. "Our beers probably range from five to six percent because we want people who've never had a beer to create their own palette and understand what types of beers they like."

They also participate in the annual "Black is Beautiful" initiative which raises awareness to the injustices faced by people of color.

"There's this brewery in Texas called Weathered Souls in San Antonio, they created this base recipe and shared it with everyone so each brewery can kind of remix it their own way," explained Bloomfield.

The proceeds from this year's Black is Beautiful Imperial Stout will be donated to Chi-Side, a non-profit organization that provides sports media training for children ages 9-18,

This year's can features the many colors of beautiful Black women and that's partly because they know women like beer too.

"Say a woman walks into the craft beer shop, she's going to see skeletons, zombies she's going to see a bunch of guys but she's not going to see herself most likely on any of those cans," said Bloomfield. "We need people to understand they belong in this space. This space is for them."

Funktyown beers can be found at over 400 locations in the Chicago area but the ultimate goal for these three professionals is to quit their day jobs and move into their very own space. And to most importantly give back.=

"Beer is a conversation starter but just getting the brand out just to let them know we are all about the community," said Williams. "We want to make sure everyone knows about Funkytown, not just about beer but from a community aspect."

Cans of their Black is Beautiful Imperial Stout is available now through March, including on tap at the United Center.