Pontoon brewery and The Atlanta Podcast start conversations on race

A local craft brewing company and a popular podcasting team have partnered to start conversations on race and inclusiveness. Pontoon Brewing and The Atlanta Podcast will launch the show, “Brewing Conversations” in July.

The show will be broadcast from the Sandy Springs brewery at 8601 Dunwoody Place, Sandy Springs. On the monthly show, Pontoon will take part in the conversations. Pontoon will also introduce a new beer flavor each month inspired by local business owners and artists who are people of color.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Pontoon co-owner Sean O’Keefe, who is white, and podcast co-host Myron Green, who is Black, wanted to collaborate to bring more diversity to the craft brewing community, O’Keefe said.

“It’s predominantly male and white,” he said. “I’ve always wondered why there are not more people of color. Craft beer is for everybody.”

O’Keefe and Green have gotten to know each other well through a craft beer group that they participate in. O’Keefe said they decided to start holding open conversations on race with beer as the common factor after watching Atlanta rapper and activist Killer Mike give a speech during news coverage of protesters on May 29. That Friday night Killer Mike, whose real name is Mike Render, called on violent protesters to find another way to seek justice after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Floyd died while in police custody on Memorial Day.

O’Keefe said he called Green after watching news coverage of protesters destroying businesses.

“I’m a business owner and I was like ‘How is this okay?’” O’Keefe recalled. “We had a long conversation… That was really kind of eye-opening. We were like ‘We’ve got to do something. We can make a difference, at least in our own community.’”

The Atlanta Podcast hosts, which include Green, Christian Andrews and Justin Wilson will carry on the first conversation, which is expected to be unfiltered.

“We cover a lot of issues that we find very important,” Andrews said. “We’re looking forward to talking about struggles in the Black community. But even though there are doors that are closed to us, (Black Americans) are powerful, and we want to talk about that too.”

Each episode will introduce a new beer flavor inspired by a local business owner with a label designed by a local artist. Ten percent of the proceeds will go to an organization that supports social justice, Pontoon marketing manager Shannon Riley said. The first beer to be introduced was brainstormed by The Atlanta Podcast hosts: An as-yet unnamed fruity tea sour flavor balanced with lemon and peach cream, said co-host Andrews.

The first “Brewing Conversations” takes place at Pontoon at 7 p.m. July 17. The show can be seen live on Pontoon Brewing’s Facebook page and will remain available. In the days after recording, episodes will become available on The Atlanta Podcast show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and other podcast platforms.