When it comes to making a commitment to learning or launching something, nobody does it better than Garrett Oliver. He is a self-taught brewmaster who went from an apprentice to the top of his field as the brewmaster and spokesperson of one of the world’s most iconic beer brands, Brooklyn Brewery. Oliver has now turned his passion towards a new goal: the education of the next generation of beverage professionals.
“I am pleased to announce the formation of the Michael Jackson Foundation for Brewing and Distilling (MJF),” Oliver explained. “The MJF will fund scholarship awards to predominantly people of color within the brewing and distilling industries or who wish to join those industries. These scholarships present an opportunity for members and supporters of our industries to directly fund a more equitable and dynamic future for brewing and distilling.”
The MJF scholarship awards will fund brewing and distilling education, whether beginning or ongoing, for BIPOC within the professions. Each scholarship granted to a student will be matched with a BIPOC mentor and/or peer within the industry. “Barriers to success in these industries have never been solely financial. No one needs walk this path alone,” Oliver continued.
Michael James Jackson (1942 – 2007) was the world’s greatest beer and whisky writer. His books have sold more than 3 million copies in 18 languages and helped launch the worldwide craft beer movement. “Michael was English, but he was also actively and profoundly anti-racist,” Oliver added.
In addition, the MJF will fund a brewing scholarship: The Sir Geoff Palmer Scholarship Award for Brewing. Sir Geoff, 80, born in Jamaica, is a Professor Emeritus of Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. In 1989 he became the first black professor in Scotland. In 1998 the American Society of Brewing Chemists honored him with the Award of Distinction, considered the “Nobel Prize of Brewing”. Sir Geoff Palmer has also been one of the most prominent civil rights authors and activists in the UK for decades.
The distilling scholarship under the MJF will be the Nathan Green Scholarship for Distilling. Nathan Green (1820 – 1890?), born enslaved, was the original distiller for Jack Daniel Tennessee Whiskey, and taught founder Jack Daniel how to distill using his distinctive techniques. Today, he is properly credited as Jack Daniels original Master Distiller.
The recipients of the MJF scholarships will be predominantly people of color. “This is a positive action meant to take our allied industries in a more positive and equitable direction for the future,” said Oliver. “This work remains necessary.”
The MJF and its seed funding grows out of the original Michael Jackson scholarship program under the American Institute of Wine and Food (AIWF). “As AIWF wraps up, we will continue its legacy and we thank them,” noted the iconic Brewery executive. “The MJF will be housed within The Partridge Scholarship Foundation, who we thank for welcoming us. Our grants will directly fund fees/tuition/materials costs for accredited brewing and distilling courses.”
Last month the MJF began accepting funds for the scholarships under The Michael Jackson Foundation for Brewing and Distilling. “I know that this is a tough time financially for most brewers and distillers,” Oliver concluded. “But this work needs to start, and I hope my fellow brewers, our friends in the distilling industry, education leaders, and beer and spirit enthusiasts will join in this important effort.”
The Partridge Club was formed in 1935. The membership was made up of leading purveyors to the hotel, club and restaurant trade. The mission of the Partridge Foundation to raise scholarship funds for institutions of higher learning and to provide training for students pursuing a career in the Hospitality Industry. “We are thrilled that Garrett has selected us to partner with him for such a special cause,” added Partridge Club President Richard Bloch.