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'More Than Just A Bar': Harlem Hops Shares History And Connection Through Beer

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"Beer is not limited to the white, bearded bros you're used to seeing promoting it," co-owner Kim Harris told CBS2's Elle McLogan.

Video Transcript

ELLE MCLOGAN: In Harlem, a local business is shedding new light on a familiar drink.

KIM HARRIS: When we envisioned opening Harlem Hops, we wanted it to be somewhat of a cultural hub in Harlem, a place where all people with different backgrounds can come together and kind of learn about each other and learn more about beer through that experience and making people fully aware that beer is not limited to the white bearded bros you're used to seeing promoting it. I'm Kim Harris.

KEVIN BRADFORD: And I'm Kevin Bradford, co-owners of Harlem Hops.

ELLE MCLOGAN: And we have one more, who's here in spirit.

KIM HARRIS: Stacey Lee. She is in Atlanta. She's third co-owner of Harlem Hops.

ELLE MCLOGAN: What did you envision when you were coming up with this?

KIM HARRIS: Trying to create a community, a beer community, then have, like, the best beer menu you could offer.

KEVIN BRADFORD: The cold season is the darker beers, the stouts, porters, Scotch ale. One of my favorite on tap right now is Four City out of Orange, New Jersey. It's brewed with coffee, has that Chai latte flavor. This is a sour IPA brewed with blueberries and maple sugar from Hudson Valley.

KIM HARRIS: It was important for me to open the brick and mortar business in the community that I grew up in. I wanted to show other youth that, you know, I'm a girl from the projects of Harlem. I'm no different from anyone else. As long as you can dream, you can achieve it.

In the back, you'll see the history of beer and its origins from Africa and how it came from Africa to the United States and how we were integral in the whole process throughout, African-Americans. That was a very critical fun fact for me, because I needed to understand my connection to beer, you know, from a deeper, spiritual level. As people of color and women and everybody that largely disassociated from beer, it's like, no, these people created this thing. It's our product, It's not, you know, mass marketing prohibits us from realizing the true origins of things.

ELLE MCLOGAN: In the pandemic, what has kept you going? Where do you get your perseverance?

KEVIN BRADFORD: Just teamwork. I couldn't do this by myself. I hope you feel the same way. [LAUGHTER] Harlem Hops is a bar, but right when COVID hit, we were we were like, I guess we'll start making deliveries.

KIM HARRIS: I mean, we have to stay positive. We're used to being in survival mode, unfortunately, as African-Americans, so this is nothing new for us. The community support was the part that keeps us pushing. You know, we want to be here for them.

ELLE MCLOGAN: What is it about beer as a drink that you like?

KEVIN BRADFORD: After work, you know, I'm a school teacher. I'm a math teacher also, so that's my, I guess, my day job.

ELLE MCLOGAN: What age do you teach?

KEVIN BRADFORD: Seventh grade math.

ELLE MCLOGAN: Wow.

KEVIN BRADFORD: So you come home after work, you know, you want to just relax. A cold beer is always a great way to do it, you know.

KIM HARRIS: It's the variety that gets me. You know, we're so accustomed to thinking that beer needs to taste like, you know, these American lagers that we've been inundated with for years, you know, since prohibition pretty much.

KEVIN BRADFORD: Our dad's drink, right?

ELLE MCLOGAN: What happens when someone walks in who says, I don't know anything about beer. I don't even know if I like beer. Where do I start?

KIM HARRIS: I just try to get an idea what their palate's like. If they like sour things, sweet things, chocolatey things, then make some suggestions based on that. What types of cocktails they prefer. It's an educational process. We want to provide something that is informative so you can broaden your palates to, you know, different things and knowing that beer is not like what we're used to beer being. It's something that everybody should learn about, and I get excited to teach it.