2 Philly brothers set out to open the city's first Black-owned brewery

Antionette Lee
July 06, 2020 - 4:00 am

UPDATED: Monday, July 6 at 4:30 p.m. 

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Amid anti-racist protests and the recent attention to inequality in America, Black-owned businesses across the country have seen a surge in support.

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Neither Philadelphia or the state of Pennsylvania have a brewery that's Black-owned — yet. While the Harris family from Harrisburg is close to bringing the state its first Black-owned brewery, two brothers from West Philadelphia are also on a mission to bring a Black-owned brewery to the city.

Out of the nearly 8,000 craft breweries in America, less than 100 of them are Black-owned.

"The more we looked into the brewing industry, the more we saw that there weren't a lot of Black brewers or Black-owned breweries," said Rich Koilor. "That kind of pushed us to, why not be the first Black-owned brewery in Philly?"

His brother Mengistu Koilor said they started brewing out of their home in 2016. Their love for the craft inspired them to create Two Locals Brewing Company. They don’t have a brick-and-mortar location yet, but they’re working on that.

"Something that's Black-owned that belongs to us where we can sort of add our own flavor, add our culture to it is huge. That's not represented right now in the industry, so we'd like to do that in Philadelphia," said Mengistu.

Rich and Mengistu Koilor
Antionette Lee/KYW Newsradio

The Koilor brothers said their largest challenge is securing the capital they need to get started. However, the recent push to support Black-owned businesses across America has been helpful.

"It's a tough process, to be honest with you. The equipment is pretty big, so you need to make sure that the ceiling heights are good," explained Mengistu. "We're trying to lock in the space and secure funds at the same time to purchase the equipment."

2 Locals Brewery
Antionette Lee/KYW Newsradio
For now, they partner with local breweries and restaurants like MUSI in South Philadelphia to sample their 5 classic beers, including their specialty, a "Nubian Brown Ale."

"We've made friends with quite a few breweries who have let us come into their breweries and brew and just walk around and learn," said Rich, "and telling us all types of information that we need in order for us to bring this brewery to Philly."

Once they open a physical location, the Koilors said they'll be able to expand on their beer selection and creativity.

"Once we get that big production site, there's a lot of things we can do and different styles we can play wit," said Mengistu.

You can keep up with them on Instagram and on Facebook. They also sell t-shirts and other merchandise at their website.