Rich and Mengistu Koilor are the founders of Two Locals Brewing Company, the first black-owned and operated brewery in Philadelphia. The Swarthmore Co-Op just started carrying their Brown Ale (Nubian) and Hazy IPA (Prolific) and I was fortunate enough to meet with Rich and Mengistu to hear more about their story:
Dartmouth Drinker: So, how did you get started?
Two Locals: Like many craft brewers, we started out with a home brew kit and created our first beer: an Irish Red Ale. After sampling it around with friends and family, folks thought it was pretty good. We then started building relationships and sampling our beer with the Philly Home Brew Club. It was then we decided to pursue the dream of becoming the first black owned and operated brewery in Philadelphia. Through a relationship with FCM Hospitality and Mainstay Independent Brewing we have scaled production and gotten the ability to test our beers in the market
Dartmouth Drinker: Are you looking for a more permanent spot and if so, is being local to your roots important to you?
Two Locals: We are born and raised in West Philadelphia, a section of the city now called Cedar Park. The city and many of its neighborhoods are undergoing change, and, in many areas, lacks diversity. West Philadelphia is our home and we want to be a part of it. But we are open to North and South Philly too as we look to transition to brick and mortar operations soon. I, (Mengistu), lived in New York City for over a decade, but, Philadelphia will always be home for us
Dartmouth Drinker: Out of all the great beer-loving cities in America, what makes Philadelphia unique?
Two Locals: Definitely the passion. If your beer sucks, people are not afraid to tell you. There is also a collaborative element to the Philly brewing scene. If you run out of hops or something, fellow brewers don’t think twice about donating some of their product. Everybody is cool with each other. It’s nice to be a part of that
Dartmouth Drinker: I have heard you talk about representation and how black and brown people see themselves in sports and entertainment but not in brewing, what made you want to be those trailblazers?
Two Locals: It happened organically really. We both enjoyed beer and we felt the craft beer world needed more representation and more people like us. Less than 1% of the breweries in the United States are black-owned
Dartmouth Drinker: In 2020, you received attention for collaborating with other brewers as part of the Black is Beautiful Beer initiative. What was that like?
Two Locals: It was great to be a part of and support a cause we are passionate about. All proceeds were donated to Black Lives Matter Philadelphia and nine thousand dollars was raised
Dartmouth Drinker: I have sampled the Nubian Brown Ale and the Hazy IPA, both delicious, what else do you have on tap?
Two Locals: This June we are releasing a Belgian Wit called “Who you Wit,” which, along with the orange and coriander typical of the style, will also have some lemon peel for an added citrusy-ness and dry finish. In addition to the Co-op, you can find our beers on tap and in cans at Craft Hall (901 N. Delaware Ave), and in beer stores and bottle shops all across the area
To learn more about Rich and Mengistu and Two Locals Brewing, follow @twolocals on Instagram and @twolocalsbrewing on Facebook