The nation’s first Black brew festival goes digital for 2020 | Drink | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

The nation’s first Black brew festival goes digital for 2020

click to enlarge PHOTO: REDDVISION
Photo: Reddvision
Rather than cancel the 2020 festival altogether due to COVID-19 restrictions, co-founder and producer Day Bracey teamed up with Work Hard Pittsburgh, an Allentown-based business incubator, to take the fest online. The event, aptly re-named Fresh Fest Digi Fest, will be their third consecutive year celebrating Black culture through “art, education, collaboration, and representation.” It will take place on Sat. Aug., 8, with over 54 hours of live content streamed worldwide.

Fresh Fest Digi Fest will bring the same elements the festival is known for – brew collaborations, live music, podcasts, educational speakers and forums, cooking, and more – on six different, live channels. Bracey explains that the channels won’t look like six, giant video-call rooms; they’re planning to stream through a platform similar to YouTube or Vimeo, with all of the channels held behind a paywall.

Each room will be designated for a different part of the fest. One channel will be for brewing – with both live and pre-recorded content – another for forums, educational speakers, and panel discussions. Flip through the remaining channels to see live podcasts, live bands, DJs spinning while artists paint and react, and the “cook-along” segment.


A free Digi Fest app will be available to help make sense of the channel system, as well as hold the Fest’s merch market, profiles for the artists and speakers, a map of Black-owned breweries, and virtual tap rooms.

The tap rooms, which Bracey describes as “like Zoom, but less bulky,” are a way he and his team are keeping the social, festival-feel alive. Fest-goers can pop in and out of the virtual rooms, chatting with the room’s other participants.

Brew collaborations, which in years past have paired local Black activists, artists, and business owners with breweries, are continuing this year, just on a smaller scale. There will be eight brew collaborations between Pittsburgh-based Black-owned breweries, packaged and shipped across Pennsylvania and 25 other states in four-packs. Each pack will contain a hoppy brew, a dark brew, a sour, and an ale.

Though disappointed the fest cannot be in person this year, Bracey sees advantages to holding a digital fest. Now, anyone who has an internet connection can join for $10 (previously, tickets have been around $50). Instead of traveling to the city or lugging beer across the state, Digi Fest can be enjoyed on a couch, in pajamas. Bracey imagines that because of the accessibility a digital fest offers, Digi Fest will remain a piece of Fresh Fest long after pandemic restrictions are lifted.


Bracey, who has previously run the fest with his co-founder Mike Potter of Black Brew Culture, is now the sole producer of Fresh Fest; Potter will no longer be involved with the festival going forward. According to Bracey, Potter has withheld his access to the Fresh Fest assets, including the promotional materials.

For this reason, all information regarding Digi Fest is located on an independent website and its own social media pages. Find the fest on Instagram @freshfestdigi and on Facebook as Fresh Fest Digi Fest. Tickets are on sale now and available at freshfestdigifest.com

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