Photo Credit: Uncap Everything
Eric Jackson Of Uncap Everything Is On A Quest To Diversify The Beer Industry
Eric Jackson is on a mission to “diversify taprooms, expand palates and connect dope people together through music, art, and fashion.” Jackson is the mastermind behind Uncap Everything and Capsoul Collective, two projects centered around curating beer experiences. Ironically, the ideas initially stemmed from his dislike of beer.
Jackson was introduced to craft beer approximately seven years ago while working in Nashville in the restaurant hospitality industry. His manager at the time organized a trip for the team to a brewery. He tried a smoked porter and was immediately hooked. This prompted a reevaluation of his feelings toward beer in general.
“I was like, wow, this is way different from the Bud Lights, Yuengling, and other beer that I really didn’t care for”, Jackson shared with Travel Noire. “It had so much more flavor, it was more complex, very rich. From that moment on, I wanted to know more about it.”
His curiosity spawned Uncap Everything, which he describes as his “journal of beer studies”. It was never meant to be an advertising and marketing platform. But these days he works with different brands like Allagash Brewing Company, Wicked Weed Brewing Pub, and multiple local breweries in Richmond — where he is based — to educate his audience on craft beer options worldwide.
“At the core of Uncap Everything is simply to encourage the non-beer drinker and even the nervous beer drinker to remove the limits and uncap everything. Don’t be afraid to try something new.”
Travel Noire spoke with Jackson further about the beers he’s currently “nerding out” on, his brewery travels around the United States, being the only Black man in the room, and what’s up next for his ventures.
Travel Noire: You’ve tried so many of these beers and you’ve done your reviews. What are some of your favorites that you’ve uncapped in the past four years?
Eric Jackson: Belgian-style beers have become one of my favorite styles of beers. They’re so complex. And they’re so unique in that Belgian beers 100% of the time use a Belgian yeast, which is a unique flavor profile. Belgian yeast gives off esters of banana, cloves, and spices. So you get that but like Allagash White, which is lone of the simplest forms of a Belgian style beer. It’s very light, very refreshing. But also you can do an Abbey-style beer as well where though they’re really heavy they’re very robust. It’s the same yeast that’s used in that style of beer. It’s a very, I would say, old-world style of beer that monks would brew in the 1500s or 1600s. And they would brew that so that they could keep their monasteries open. That style of beer has always connected to me because I just enjoy the story, and I enjoy the flavor of it.
I think I would also add spontaneous, wild ales as well. Those are two different beers. I used to not like sour beers at all, but as I continue to try different beers, I learned about spontaneous beers. It simply means that when you brew the beer, you’re taking the wort, which is basically after you’ve run hot water over the grains, like a teabag, right? When you do that with beer, you get the wort leftover. And so what brewers do, they leave that wort out in a container which allows a beer to cool down evenly. But it also attracts natural yeasts that are in the air. That makes it spontaneous, which makes it sometimes funky.
TN: Tell us a bit more about Capsoul Collective. It seems very special to you.
EJ: That’s my baby. Capsoul Collective is more intentional in its idea. Whereas Uncap Everything is just simply about getting people to try new beers. Capsoul Collective is to energize and diversify tap rooms. In my travels and my studies at different breweries, I found that a lot of times it wasn’t very diverse. Most times I was the only person of color or Black person that was in the brewery. And that was probably 95% of the time. So the Capsoul Collective was created to bring in a new demographic into the tap room and to be educational. Our motto is ‘where craft meets culture.’ And I have also found there are actually a lot of Black people that do enjoy beer. There are a lot of Black brewers. Compared to the majority of everyone that is brewing, I think Black people make up maybe 1% of that totality. It’s a small community for sure.
So we do different events at breweries. We do collaborative beers, and we do work in the community. Last year during the protests, we worked with a brewery called Väsen Brewing Company located here in Richmond. We did a beer called Cohesion, which was a double IPA.
TN: You mentioned your travels. Where have you been exploring the craft brew scene?
EJ: I travel pretty much the south side of the states: Virginia, places in Atlanta, Asheville, and North Carolina; they have such a really good brewery scene out there. I was traveling a lot when I first started Uncap Everything because I wanted to try all the beers. This year, now that things are kind of opening back up and vaccines are out, I’ll be doing some traveling up north, which is going to be new for me. Portland, Oregon; we’re going to go to New York, Utah — I’m trying to a lot of different places. But I haven’t traveled in over a year and a half.
TN: Do you have any future plans you want to share with us in terms of Capsoul Collective or Uncap Everything?
EJ: Capsoul has a few projects that we have coming up. We have an art show and beer release coming up at Hardywood. It’s dated for the end of the year, probably around November. But it’s gonna be called Future Love. And I’m working with an artist. His name’s Chris Smart. I’m also working with another artist named Jay Bordeaux. This is something that Capsoul has done before but on a smaller scale. But basically, it’s going to be an art show, and we’re going to invite a lot of different artists to show their work. There will be live music performances at the brewery, and we’re also working on a collaborative beer with one of the head brewers at Hardywood Brewery. For Uncap Everything, it’s just more of my personal stuff. I have some content coming out with Guinness here in the next couple of weeks, so people can look forward to that.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.