Brooklyn Brewery and Yolélé create sustainability-focused craft brew

Global craft beer innovator Brooklyn Brewery has announced the launch of Brooklyn Brewery x Yolélé Fonio White Beer, a craft beer brewed with fonio, the nutritious ancient West African grain that purpose-driven food business Yolélé has helped bring to the American masses.

The limited release, which combines fonio’s nutty, wheaty character with juicy hops in a beautifully smooth and refreshing riff on classic white beer (5.6 % ABV), will start rolling out at select Whole Foods Market stores throughout the Northeast throughout October. It will also be available to all beer enthusiasts and sustainability-minded customers in Brooklyn Brewery’s Tasting Room.

Yolélé and Brooklyn Brewery share the goal of promoting a more viable future for food and beverage. The beer itself shines golden with the tiny blond grains – which are packed full of nutrients and health benefits – and underscores these companies’ commitment to furthering sustainability through strategic ingredient-sourcing.

Brooklyn Brewery’s James Beard Award-winning Brewmaster, Garrett Oliver, also a world-leading expert on the utilisation of both fonio and other sustainability-focused grains in the brewing process, explains, “A few years ago I saw Chef Pierre Thiam’s TED talk about fonio, and immediately said to myself “This grain sounds amazing…I wonder if we can make beer from it?” After all, beer brewing has been an important part of traditional African cultures for thousands of years, and here was one of the grains that was once a staple for people in that part of the world. We did a pilot brew and it was delicious; it was very fruity, almost like gewurztraminer wine. And then when we brought a fonio beer to the Great American Beer Festival in 2019, people went nuts for it. Fast-forward to now – and this is a whole new level of awesome. Not only is the beer really tasty, but growing fonio supports the environment and supports indigenous farms in West Africa. It’s a big win all around.”

Miles Moser, Brooklyn Brewery’s vice president of sales, adds: “We hope that this beer can do several things in the future, beyond tasting delicious. It can serve as an educational opportunity promoting Fonio and other grains grown with sustainability in mind as viable ingredients in food products that can really make a difference in the world. Fonio has a brewing functionality that can be incorporated into both established and avant-garde brewing recipes, and we’re excited to share that with the world.”

Known as the “seed of the universe,” fonio, a grain in the millet family, is a staple crop and source of sustenance. The ancient African grain has thrived in West Africa for over 5,000 years. Fonio flourishes in a hot, dry region near the Sahara Desert, where little else can grow. As a drought-resistant crop, it may hold key lessons about agriculture in the face of climate change. Fonio also has a nutrient rich profile; it is a good source of fiber, iron, B-vitamins, zinc, and magnesium, as well as antioxidant flavonoids, and is particularly high in two amino acids— methionine and cysteine— which promote hair, skin, and nail growth.

Brooklyn Brewery previously featured fonio in their recent collaborative brew with Run The Jewels, a double pilsner dubbed 36” Chain, and in Seed, Stalk And Root, brewed in partnership with Cajun Fire Brewing Co.

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