Brewer Chris Gandsy is bringing some Southern hospitality to New York State with Daleview Biscuits and Beer, the only Black-owned brewery in New York State that brews its beer on-site.
Gandsy, 44, said that for years, he never even drank beer. Ten years ago, his wife gifted him a home-brewing kit for Father's Day, and in years he turned his hobby into a business after several years of selling his beers to friends and family members at pop-up parties.
"People believed in me, and I (had) my wife and some close friends who believed in the vision and kind of pushed me for it, like 'You can do this,'" Gandsy, a father of three, told TODAY's Craig Melvin. "Why not? Why not spread the joy?"
At Daleview Biscuits and Beer, located in the historically Black neighborhood of Lefferts Garden, Brooklyn, Gandsy serves up craft beer and Carolina biscuits inspired by his hometown of Columbia, South Carolina — the same town Craig grew up in. The gluten-free biscuits, served with pimento cheese, are inspired by Gandsy's 93-year-old grandmother, and while she wouldn't share her exact recipe, she did give them her stamp of approval.
In addition to brewing good beer and comforting food, Gandsy aims to add some diversity to the field of craft beer. Out of approximately 8,500 breweries in the United States, only around 60 are Black-owned. There are two other Black-owned breweries in New York State, both in Harlem, New York City, but they are contract breweries, so different companies use the breweries and their equipment to produce their own recipes. There are some initiatives in the works that aim to create internships, scholarships and other opportunities for young BIPOC brewers who want to go into the industry; Gandsy is planning to develop an initiative of his own.
"My hope is what's going to happen is that we help change mindsets in the neighborhood, because the neighborhood is changing … and creating unity and equity," Gandsy told Craig. "That's my goal, to help create equity in this community."
Gandsy said he also wanted to use the brewery to teach people about Black history and the civil rights movement; Daleview's beers are named after lesser-known leaders and activists like Dr. Paul Bogle, a Jamaican deacon and activist, and Diane Nash, a Freedom Rider, which sold out quickly.
"I wanted a place where I could be part of the community, and also a place to educate people around craft beer," said Gandsy. "I feel a cold beer is something that can bring people together."
Above all else, Gandsy focuses on brewing good beer.
"I think a beer that's made with thought, love and positive energy is a good beer," he said. "Like, if somebody is putting their true passion and potential love into it, that's a good beer."