Rocky Mount Brewery co-founder won't be stopped

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Briana Brake


By Jessie H. Nunery

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Briana Brake isn’t going to be stopped.

For one, she doesn’t sit still much.

Craft beer can be and often is a seven-day, per week job.

As co-founder of Rocky Mount Brewery, Brake is either on the road distributing her latest IPA or in the incubator of the Rocky Mount Mills.

Brake saw her dream of opening a brewery become a reality in November, and after a few months as a newcomer on the block, she is ready to tackle her first spring and summer months aggressively.

There truly is no settling down when you’re making a name for yourself and a product.

“Mondays through Wednesdays I’m brewing beers and attending meetings, trying to open new accounts,” said Brake, who is also the founder of Spaceway Brewery. “Thursdays through Sundays, we do events, festivals, beer tastings. I typically try to be at the Mills to run the cash register and catch up with some people, but it’s busy.”

Brake, along with Harlem Brewery founder Celeste Beatty, opened Rocky Mount Brewery in November. Beatty has operated Harlem Brewing Company for more than a decade and a half. Beatty, a North Carolina native, often is in New York, but continually serves as a partner and mentor to Brake.

In the midst of figuring out the business side of brewing and the juggling act that comes with her schedule, Brake also strives to make a difference.

The storyline that follows her and others like Beatty are that they are black women in an industry dominated by those who do not look like them.

Brake doesn’t shy away from the fact that she isn’t a bearded, white man, but rather accepts it and gets to business.

Brewing a cream ale for the summer is part of the business as is finding a connection with those who purchase her beer.

“There are a lot of people who are curious,” Brake said. “They don’t see others who look like me. We get people who are surprised that I’m a woman and a lot of people who are glad that I am where I am.”

Her minority presence will open doors for others one day. Brake talks about one day having apprenticeships with young minorities.

“My main goal is to make great beer, but it’s also so much bigger than beer,” Brake said. “I want to reach out to people who don’t know this is a thing they can do.”