The 2021 Inaugural Black Influencers of Libation Association Awards

By Members of BILA

The Black Influencers of Libation Association (BILA) is a coalition that allows space for black influencers to network and support each other as they make their mark in the beer, wine, and spirits industries. Each influencer in BILA has its own niche in its market. Whether it is providing education about beer brands, hosting events, or even providing recipes for the perfect cocktail; there is an influencer that has a space for you. 

Members of BILA have worked together to develop the inaugural 2021 BILA Awards. This award list consists of several categories that we feel are vital when it comes to supporting businesses in the beer, wine, and spirits industry. Voting members of the 2021 BILA Awards are Shani Glapion (@theblackbeerexperience), Kramer Deans (@thebeerdedbrotha), James Jenkins (@drinkswithjenks), and Justin Singleton (@brewncircles). Support these influencers by following them on Instagram and check out the projects they are working on.  

Each award has comments written by one of our influencers with their choice of favorite beer. We hope you enjoy our choices and please visit each brewery when you can. 

Jackalope Brewing Co.

The Safest Place to Have a Beer:
Jackalope Brewing Co. 

Jackalope cares! They care about their patrons and the community. You can tell by the intentionality in which they give back to their community and make the extra effort to ensure their customers feel welcomed. From participating in the  Black is Beautiful and Brave Noise initiatives, Jackalope is making a statement by supporting marginalized communities. Their open support lets their patrons know where they stand and with whom they stand. What really took the cake is their participation in the Safe Bar initiative where they now have coasters that allow individuals to check if their beer has been tampered with by a drug. Not only are they looking out for their customers, but they’ve also encouraged their neighboring establishments to participate. Jackalope is a company that walks the walk and they have delicious beer to boot! – Shani, The Black Beer Experience

Shani’s Beer Pick: Fennario IPA

Brewery with the Best Food:
Various Artist Brewing Company

If you missed Pat’s delicious food, then you’ve missed the gem of the brewing community. Various Artists cranked out some great homemade food to go along with their tasty beers. My first introduction to Various Artists was the Nashville Scene Burger Week. I had an IPA and a burger and became hooked. Their scrumptious food was always served with a smile, and you could tell love was put into it! In a community where it seems like pizza or food trucks reign supreme, it was a delight to enjoy a well-thought-out and likely themed meal that was made in-house. Nashville lost a gem in many ways with their closing. – Shani, The Black Beer Experience

Shani’s Beer Pick: Pretty Fly for a West Coast IPA

Best Social Media Presence:
Black Abbey Brewing Company 

There’s no doubt that if there’s something going on at Black Abbey, their social media will tell the story and most likely in a hilarious way. From shotgunning beers to funny skits introducing their new releases, the team at Black Abbey knows how to grab your attention. They don’t just post, they also interact with their followers. You’ll find a like on your post, a shared story, a replied comment or a combination that lets you know they see and value your interactions. While their social media may get you to the brewery, their beers will keep you coming back. And if you’re wondering where you can grab a Black Abbey brew and grab a bite, check out their IG. They’re always around town drinking and eating! – Shani, The Black Beer Experience

Shani’s Beer Pick: Chronicles Festbier

Best Hidden Gem:
Living Waters Brewing Company 

Everyone knows and loves Living Waters but it’s rarely in conversations. This brewery is tucked in East Nashville on a busy street but is still rather inconspicuous. They bang out some awesome stouts, juicy IPAs, and other various styles. Their options are limited but they’re done well. The space is great for working, having conversations with friends, or just having a beer. Because it doubles as a coffee shop, it doesn’t give the same feeling like a traditional brewery, there’s this sleek vibe that promotes a laid-back atmosphere. It’s a brewery that you want people to be more aware of, but also want to ensure they respect the vibe Living Waters has going on. – Shani, The Black Beer Experience

Shani’s Beer Pick: Gulfoss IPA

The Brewery with the Best Playlist:
Bearded Iris (Germantown)

Or as I like to refer to the OG location, is a place where you will definitely forget that you are in a brewery. One moment you may feel like you are in Cali rolling in a ‘64 playing Snoop, in New York with FERG, and then all of a sudden at your uncle’s cookout listening to Maze featuring Frankie Beverly. If you can’t stay at the brewery to vibe out with a beer, you can take home a 4 or 6 pack from their brewery and listen to their playlists on Spotify (beardediris111). – Justin, BrewNCircles

Justin’s Beer Pick: Mood Ring w/ Blood Orange, Pineapple & Mango

 Tailgate Brewery
©Tailgate Beer, LLC

Most Pet-Friendly Brewery:
Tailgate Brewery (Headquarters)

Having a beer with friends is great! Having a beer with your dog in a place that loves your dog is even greater!!! That is why you have to go to the Tailgate Brewery (Headquarters) location. They have a large outdoor space for you to enjoy the scenery and a place for your pup to stretch out and get loved on by everyone. They also have a Mutt Club with great incentives for your hairy friend! A $30 annual membership gets your pup a bandana, spent grain treat for every visit, $2 off pup cups from their ice cream shop, and monthly meetups! $10 from each membership is donated to the Nashville Humane Association. – Justin, BrewNCircles

Justin’s Beer Pick: Lime Lager (Seasonal)


Most Diverse Beer Staff:

What do you see behind the bar and in the brewery when you walk into a brewery? If you said white men then you’ve obviously been in a brewery! It hits differently when you walk into Jackalope Brewery. When you walk into this brewery, more often than not you are greeted by women bartending. One of their primary objectives is finding the perfect beverage for you. If you look in the production area where the beer is made, you will find women and Black people working. You don’t see this often, but it is refreshing just like your beer from their draft list. Jackalope has employees from Black men to women working in important roles and not the ones that are traditionally used to check off the “diversity” box. – Kramer, The Beerded Brotha

Kramer’s Beer Pick: Abominable Snowman Stout

 Rollout Stout by Bearded Iris

Best Collaboration Beer:
Rollout Stout by Bearded Iris, The Beerded Brotha, Slim and Husky, and The Work of Rosa

Bringing communities together is the foundation of craft beer. That’s why it is so important to create collaborations with influencers, businesses, and organizations in your area to bring in a section of a community that might have never experienced your space. Bearded Iris nailed it with their Cinnamon Roll Imperial Stout that was brewed for the black beer festival, Barrel and Flow. The Beerded Brotha came up with the idea to participate in Barrel and Flow to promote Nashville breweries to start getting into the community. Bearded Iris showed out with this beer by recruiting Slim and Husky’s who then recruited Super Money Kids for the social aspect. The Work of Rosa really came through with the can art which matched the beer’s flavor profile! This is a great example of a collaboration that is made with the community in mind. – Kramer, The Beerded Brotha

Kramer’s Beer Pick: Rollout, Mood Ring

Most Family-Friendly Brewery:
East Nashville Beer Works 

Mom and dad want to go have a beer or several at a brewery but they don’t feel comfortable bringing their child there. Don’t worry, head to ENBW and hang out on their patio that has everything from heated lamps to a whole playground for the little ones to run around so you can easily supervise with a beer in hand! When you walk into ENBW you immediately feel the family comfort from the slide for the children to the well-made brews for the moms and dads to sit back and enjoy a great brew. They also have pizza so you can have a party there for the babies and adults. The employees make you feel like you are part of the family there and greet you as soon as you walk in the door and are very open to educating people about their beer and helping you make a well-informed decision to quench your thirst! – Kramer, The Beerded Brotha

Kramer’s Beer Pick: This is Spinal Stout, P.O.G Days of Summer

Bearded Iris - Sylvan Supply

Best Brewery for Date Night:
Bearded Iris – Sylvan Supply

I never want to wear a suit and listen to a DJ set so badly until I walk into the Bearded Iris Sylvan Supply location! The speakeasy vibe with Run the Jewels playing in the background is the type of remixed sophistication I need on my date nights! The seating is perfect for intimate conversations while listening to some great music and drinking even better beer! The winter date night experience is amplified with the arrival of Black Dynasty Ramen in their kitchen. Now you can be warm, happy, and buzzed! This space is perfect for a casual or semi-casual couple to enjoy a nice evening. The low-key romantic ambiance with the courtyard and mural outside makes it perfect for pictures to capture the memories of the night. It’s a great place to start or end your evening, but either way, you are setting up a nice evening. – Kramer, The Beerded Brotha

Kramer’s Beer Pick: V. Latte (seasonal), Triple Homestyle

Honorable Mentions

Best Rotation of Beer on Tap

Best brewery/bottle shop/taproom that always keeps good beer on tap throughout the year:

Craft Brewed 2502 8th Ave South Nashville, TN

Best “Black is Beautiful” in the Middle Tennessee Area 

The brewery that made the best rendition of the Black is Beautiful beer created by Weathered Souls Brewing:

Living Waters Brewing 1056 E Trinity Ln #101, Nashville, TN

Best Variety of Spirits

The distillery has a variety of spirits with a longstanding tradition:

Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery 1414 Clinton St, Nashville, TN

New Kid on the Block

Up and coming distillery that is gaining a lot of traction in the spirit world:

Guidance Whiskey Nashville, TN

Best Brewery to Collaborate

The brewery has established great partnerships with influencers, businesses and other entities within the local community:

Harding House Brewing Co. 904 51st Ave N, Nashville, TN

Best Brewery Vibes

The brewery has the best indoor and outdoor aesthetics from decor to the layout of the brewery:

Monday Night Preservation Co. 1308 Adams St. Nashville, TN

One Time for the Ladies!!!

Celebrating the ladies that are holding it down in the Beer/Wine/Alcohol Industry:

Ogechi Anyatonwu, President & CEO Twisted Sistuhs Wine

Bailey Spaulding, CEO Jackalope Brewing Co. 

Jennifer Starks & Robin Davis Homegrown Taproom & Kitchen 2720 Lebanon Rd, Nashville, TN

Best Legacy

We can all agree that a lot of spirits come from humble beginnings, but with legacy comes long-lasting influence and in Tennessee, you can’t make Tennessee whiskey without one key part…Lincoln County Process.

Nearest Green Distillery Shelbyville, TN

Best Distillery Tour

The distillery that provides the best overall tour experience.

Nearest Green Distillery Shelbyville, TN

Best Distillery Off the Beaten Path

Nashville has a number of distilleries in town, but this great experience can be outside of Davidson County.

Short Mountain Distillery Woodbury, TN

Best New Brewery 

A brewery that has been open in Nashville for less than 2 years.

Crazy Gnome Brewery 948 Main St. Nashville, TN

Best Merchandise

Brewery with the best swag to buy and wear!

Bearded Iris 101 Van Buren St. and 4101 Charlotte Ave. Suite 40 Nashville, TN

Best Whiskey Bar

The bar has an array of whiskey and spirits for you to choose from on a daily basis.

The Patterson House 1711 Division Street, Nashville, TN

Best Patio or Beer Garden

Members of The Black Beer Experience voted for the brewery with the best patio/beer garden.

East Nashville Beer Works 320 E Trinity Ln, Nashville, TN

Best Wall Mural

Best mural outside or inside the brewery.

Bearded Iris (Sylvan Supply) 4101 Charlotte Ave Suite 40, Nashville, TN

Best Store with a Variety of Spirits

A store that has a variety of spirits and wine with staffing that is knowledgeable of the product they sell.

CorkDorks-Midtown 1610 Church Street, Nashville, TN

Best Cigar & Spirit Combo

The best location in town to grab a good drink and a good stogie!

Bar: Cigar Especial 701 4th Ave S, Nashville, TN


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