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Two Locals Brewery is the first Black owned brewery in Philadelphia. Credit: José Brenes

Two Locals Brewery opened full time on Jan. 31 as the first Black-owned brewery in University City.

The brewery — located at 37th and Market streets —  is owned by Richard and Mengistu Koilor, two brothers who were both raised in West Philadelphia. The pair spoke with The Daily Pennsylvanian about their intentions behind the brewery, their decision to open a location in University City, and their plans for the future. 

The Koilor siblings started brewing in their home as a hobby in 2018 and launched their first two beers in March 2021. Throughout the process of starting Two Locals Brewery, the pair realized that very few Black-owned breweries exist in Philadelphia and the greater Pennsylvania area. 

Black brewers currently make up 1% of the total numbers of brewers in the United States, according to the Brewer's Association. Mengistu Koilor described this lack of Black representation as "even more motivation to get this place open.” 

The brothers also described their decision to locate the store in West Philadelphia as “very deliberate.”

“It’s a cool feeling to be able to plant some roots here and make our mark on the city that made us," Richard Koilor added.

Mengistu Koilor discussed the benefits of being located in close proximity to Penn and Drexel. He also praised  the ongoing development of uCity Square, saying that he hopes it will lead to additional traffic in the area.

“Apparently they’re trying to make this area kind of like a smaller downtown away from Center City,” he said.

Richard Koilor also hopes for future collaboration between the business and local universities such as Penn and Drexel. Opportunities he hopes to develop include beer testing and other forms of student involvement.

He also highlighted potential opportunities for education at Two Locals, particularly pertaining to the biology and chemistry involved in the beer production process. 

“There’s a lot of science in beer, so we feel good that we’re close to these two colleges," Richard Koilor said. 

Credit: José Brenes

Two Locals Brewery is located at 37th and Market Streets.

Mengistu Koilor also highlighted the business's diverse demographics, suggesting that — although he has not yet seen many college students in the brewery — all are welcome. While patrons must be 21 years or older to buy alcohol, he highlighted that the business also serves food produced by Liberty Kitchen, a locally-focused deli and market.  

Mengistu Koilor added that while their main focus is currently on developing new beers, they are also working on offering events and programming in the store, including quiz nights on Tuesdays.

He said that he is grateful for all of the support that the business has received so far in the opening process, including customers traveling from different parts of the city to patronize it.