The People vs. Back Unturned Brewing
Back Unturned Finds A Resolution
Only a few months into 2021 and we have one of the most intriguing stories in the craft beer industry to date. Marcus Baskerville of Weathered Souls Brewing created the “Black is Beautiful Initiative” in the summer of 2020 following the unjust murder of George Floyd by the hand of Minneapolis Police. The Black is Beautiful initiative was designed to raise awareness of injustices facing People of Color, donating 100% of the beer profits to charities involved in police reform and legal defense for protesters. Black is Beautiful also sought out to promote equality and inclusion in the craft beer industry. Breweries from around the country were invited to brew the recipe; Black is Beautiful exceeded expectations and made its way across all 50 states and 22 countries for a total of 1,207 participating breweries as of March 2021. One of the breweries that joined in the initiative was San Antonio, Texas-based brewery, Back Unturned Brewing.
Ricardo Garcia, Founder and CEO of Back Unturned Brewing, took on the recipe and decided to brew it at his brewery. While it should be noted that there is no contractual obligation to donate the profits, the message is clear that the profits of the beer are meant to be presented to specific charities. In a text exchange between Baskerville and Garcia, Baskerville writes, “Hey Ricardo can you clarify and show proof of where the proceeds went for the sales went to for your BIB beer and what organization you chose, as well as the percentage of the sales went?” Garcia responded with, “I’m working with a local black business owner, I don’t feel the need to disclose the percentages or anything of that sort; God bless and cheers!” Baskerville went on to say how this is entirely unacceptable and while there is no contract in place to donate the BIB profits, there is a moral obligation that was violated had funds generated of the beer been squandered for personal use.
Yo Back Unturned Brewing Co. blocked me because I called them out about them making a Black is Beautiful Beer (message…
It was discovered that the profits went to personal trainer, Coach JT, in which Garcia is a client and personal friend. As you can imagine, when this news broke, it lead to an influx of social media messages for Garcia on how he handled the profits, publicly calling out Back Unturned and its owner. This led to a spree of Garcia blocking social media accounts. Coach JT made an Instagram live post explaining his role in the situation and explaining that his friend and client, Ricardo Garcia, did give him the money, but it was for a greater cause. Coach JT talks about sharing his dream with Garcia of starting a non-profit providing training and mentorship for underprivileged athletes. Coach JT said that this was why he knew Garcia gave him the money, and his intentions came from a good place, and he was ignorant to what the Black is Beautiful initiative was. Coach went on to say that in retrospect, it does line up with the message of Black is Beautiful, but how it was handled and how the money was given looks really bad. Finally, Coach says that he plans on working with Baskerville and Garcia to make sure the money goes to the proper cause and into the right hands.
On March 5th, 2021, Baskerville wrote in a Facebook post:
“Black is Beautiful is an initiative created to impact the community, to make change, to be a long-lasting issue at the front of the industry and hit it heads on… Black is Beautiful has grown to be bigger than me and everyone who has supported it thus far. The support shown has been astounding and beyond anything, I could have ever imagined. Being said that, yesterday, we brought to light a brewery who chose the wrong course of actions when inquired about their donations. People came out in full force to support the initiative, and I absolutely love that, but on the other hand, we do not want to crucify someone or bring a negative light to Black is Beautiful.”
Because of that, we have chosen to work directly with the brewery involved to help them right their wrong and make sure that the donation amount promised will be given to a charity or organization that fits within the initiatives’ goals and mission. Our goal, since day 1, has always been to bring people together, foster conversation, and help the community. So that’s what we will continue to do and help make sure that everyone involved with Black is Beautiful is doing the same. Cheers everyone!”
Until recently, like most people, I wasn’t sure what working with Back Unturned to make things right was going to entail. If the money was gone, how could that, as well as Back Unturned’s reputation, be fixed? On March 12th, 2021, after blocking countless people on social media, including Baskerville, Ricardo Garcia issued a public apology and noted that the money will be donated to the NAACP. Garcia also said that his staff had no knowledge of his handlings with the original plans with the funds. The total profit transferred to Coach JT was $1,310.57, and the amount JT moved to the NAACP was $1,310.57.
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Ricardo Garcia did the right thing in the end, but does that offset the wrong initially, even if it came from a good place? You, the reader and beer enthusiast, can judge for yourself. Personally, I believe in second chances, and as crazy as this story got, the ultimate outcome is still a step in the right direction. If all parties involved are good, I’m good. I’m also happy that people in the craft beer industry are also holding people accountable for their actions, even if intentions were good or not. We all have to be responsible and if we say we’re going to do something, make good on your word.