Crowns Inglewood: The Hottest New Brewery in Town is Opening Early 2023
What would you say if I told you your dream partnership might be found on Tinder, just one fateful swipe away? When it comes to Crowns & Hops, one of the craft brew industry’s most popular brands, founders Beny Ashburn and Teo Hunter first got acquainted on the notorious dating app. While a romantic connection proved to be fleeting, their business partnership has revealed itself to be a match made in beer-brewing heaven.
Back in 2013, when the founding duo met, Hunter began introducing Ashburn to the world of craft beer when they began visiting breweries. While they loved the tastings, unfortunately, they noticed a trend. “We would be the only Black people in the taproom,” states Hunter, the COO. It wasn’t long before they resolved to do something about it, and after several years of building their foundation, Crowns & Hops was born in 2018. As Inglewood’s first and only Black-owned brewery, its mission is to create family-friendly spaces that are community-centric with underserved communities of color in mind, driving diversity, economic growth, and influencing inclusion. With multiple beer profiles released and an incredible brand influence established, Ashburn and Hunter are ready to expand into unchartered territory with the opening of their brick-and-mortar Crowns Inglewood.
A public brewhouse, Crowns Inglewood will be a 14,000-square-foot pub, tasting room, full-service restaurant, event space, and the ultimate social gathering spot for the community. Set to open by early 2023, it will be located near the heart of east Inglewood, the intersection of Manchester and Crenshaw. “[I thought] Where could we drive the most impact and also preserve the culture that's existing inside of the City of Inglewood?” Ashburn reflects. “When you step into Crowns Inglewood, we want it to be an experience where you really tap into all five senses.” In addition to being a social hangout, the pub will also offer live music events, brewery tours, and community partnerships. Hunter chimes in, “Crowns Inglewood will belong to the city!”
In addition to preparing for Crowns Inglewood’s grand opening, Ashburn and Hunter are also launching Crowns & Hops newest Fall selections. First is Doptoberfest, “a traditional Märzen style for those who love German beer but don’t necessarily see themselves in German culture.” Immediately following is HBCU IPA, “an ode to the institutions that help frame Beny and myself and so many others,” shares Hunter. Readily available throughout California and the greater Atlanta and NYC regions at hundreds of retailers, the rest of the country can get their hands on these tasty offerings through their online platform at the company’s website.
The two have come a long way since their early beginnings. During those early days, because it took so much time to manufacture the physical product, Ashburn and Hunter pivoted to focus on the lifestyle element of their brand to build and nurture community. They hosted beer tastings, encouraged social media engagement, and supported other in-person events for several years before they sold a single can of beer. That all changed with the launch of their 2019 crowdfunding campaign to launch the brand’s first canned offering.
When they finally released their trademark 8 Trill Pilsner, they launched a community crowdfunding campaign with it. “The goal was to make sure people understood they can participate in what we're doing. This isn't something that's just landing on the community, but rather being cultivated within the community,” explains Hunter. After raising those early funds, they were able to not only attract some dynamic investors and partnerships, but they were able to invest in other Black-owned breweries in the business as well. “We're not trying to be the only Black-owned brewing company you know about, which is why we created the 8 Trill Pils Fund, our nonprofit that literally gives grants to other Black-owned brewing companies,” Hunter explains. Ashburn nods her head in agreement. “We are focused on racial equity. And that's a plan for economic success for all of us.”