Beer Kulture, Women of the Bevolution and Brave Noise Award Inaugural Grant to Momentum Cider Founder

A collaboration between Beer Kulture, Women of the Bevolution and the Brave Noise initiative, the Beer Kulture Women of the Bevolution Creator Launchpad Grant has been awarded to Monique Gray, Founder of Momentum Cider, based in Long Beach, California. Through this grant opportunity, Gray will receive financial assistance, business guidance, and the chance to release a product commercially.

The Creator Launchpad Grant is for women and non-binary entrepreneurs, brewers, or digital creators who identify as an underrepresented or underserved member of the craft beverage community including, but not limited to, Black, African American, Indigenous, Asian American, Pacific Islander, or other Person of Color, who dream of launching a product commercially but need the necessary funding and guidance to make it a reality.

“What a dream come true,” says Gray. “This grant will ignite the trajectory of my vision and create an opportunity for women that look like me in the cider industry.”

The grant program provides Gray with $15,000 in financial assistance plus $2,000 for travel expenses and the opportunity to launch a craft beverage through Pilot Project Brewing in Chicago, IL, as well as a collaboration with a cidery. Gray also receives three months of financial consulting from Genevieve Haughey of Northwestern Mutual, three months of marketing & PR consulting from Ash Eliot, Founder of Women of the Bevolution, and a copy of Beer Kulture’s “This Ain’t The Beer That You’re Used To.” The top 10 applicants also received a copy of the book.

“What excites me about this grant opportunity is getting to see Beer Kulture’s mission to increase diversity, equity and inclusion by way of educational programs and compassionate community services in action,” says Latiesha Cook, Co-Founder and President of Beer Kulture. “Our grantee, Mo, has a great vision. We are thrilled to partner with her on the launch of her upcoming products and to make some of what she’s been visualizing for so long a reality.”

In 2021, Gray started making cider at her home in Long Beach and originally went by the name Mo Betta Brews. Now, she has officially launched Momentum Cider. A cidermaker, musician, former massage therapy instructor, and mother of five, she’s committed to releasing her cider commercially and pursuing her goal of being the first Black woman-owned cidery in California and only the third in the United States. Her journey within the cider industry has led her to judge the PICC Portland Cider Cup and speak on panels like the Female Founders Night at Benny Boy Brewing in LA. Gray also completed the Cider Institute of North America’s Foundation Certificate in Cider & Perry Production. Her overall business goal is to open a taproom but understands there are a lot of opportunities along that journey to launch her own brand and build her business. Grey has two ciders she is focused on releasing in the market, a cranberry cider and apple cider. It’s important to her to provide space and an opportunity to educate the BIPOC community, especially those who identify as African American and Black, about cider and help to make it more accessible to them.

“This grant program is a chance for the underrepresented within the brewing and craft beverage space to have industry resources and guidance to take that next step in creating a brand and launching a business,” says Ash Eliot, Founder of Women of the Bevolution. “We felt Mo’s business goals, experience and dedication to the craft best reflected this grant’s mission, and we are excited to be able to assist in amplifying her brand and launching a product commercially.”

The Creator Launchpad Grant Program was founded in 2022 and funded through the Brave Noise Global Beer Collab and the ongoing merch fundraiser, the Antisexist AntiRacist ProEquality Beer Club, which are initiatives founded by Brienne Allan of Sacred Profane Brewing and Eliot’s Women of the Bevolution.

“Programs and partnerships like these are critical because it’s one thing to apply for a grant and hope your vision can be realized,” Cook says. “But it’s another thing to be seen, heard and understood by a group of people who are interested in removing barriers and elevating them. Our applicants were able to share their own stories and create their own narratives through this process. That makes me proud to hopefully continue to do more of these grants.”

The Creator Launchpad Grant is dependent on partnerships and mentors within the industry to provide the network, experience and guidance for the recipient. Pilot Project Brewing, an incubator brewery, with locations in Chicago and Milwaukee, is providing a platform for the underrepresented in the craft beverage industry, which is displayed through their collaborations with brands like Azadi Brewing, Funkytown Brewery, and ROVM Hard Kombucha.

“It’s brilliant to partner with so many like-minded organizations and creators invested in bringing our industry to the modern era,” says Dan Abel, Co-Founder of Pilot Project Brewing. “As a brewery incubator, Pilot Project’s mission is to lower barriers and further instill diversity and innovation across the bev/alc industry. By providing R&D, production, and distribution resources, we’re able to create near-frictionless paths to market which have helped successfully launch 15 brands since our inception. In an industry that makes it so difficult for anyone that doesn’t fit its historical mold precisely, we’re eager to partner with Monique and help bolster her profile across the fermented beverage space.”

Both Beer Kulture and Women of the Bevolution, respectively, have launched programs focused on financial assistance, education and mentorships for Women of Color and non-binary craft beverage creators, and they aim to replicate more opportunities like this in the future.

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