The major story in craft beer this month is pretty obvious, the pervasive issues with sexism, assault, and racism in the industry. While this has been a problem for a long time, the discussion on the issues really took off when two different contractors working near the new Notch Brewing site in Brighton made sexist comments to Notch production manager Brienne Allan. Brienne posted about the interactions on Instagram (@ratmagnet) and asked for other examples of sexism or discrimination that women or minorities in the industry have faced. This resulted in a deluge of stories, many calling out specific breweries or individuals for improper, unethical and often illegal and disgusting actions. Allan was so overwhelmed by the response that took up over 10 pages of Instagram stories in the course of a week she helped set up a new account (@emboldenactadvance) that is continuing to post the tales. Anyone who has been paying attention to the industry shouldn’t have been surprised that sexism is pervasive in craft beer, just look at the horribly misogynistic names many brewers put on their products for an example, but it was still galling to see all of these stores laid out in a row.
There have been a ton of great articles written on this subject, and I can’t capture them all, but here are a few that I found informative. Kate Bernot looks at many different parts of the issue, including specific allegations and the potential for legal vulnerability. Beth Demmon has written many great pieces, including the physical, psychological and financial price that women pay for working in beer and a look at what the Brewer’s Association and state brewer’s guilds can (but probably won’t) do to help spearhead change in the industry. Some local guilds are starting to take action, here is a statement from the Mass Brewer’s Guild. Dave Infante pointed to the decision of worker’s at Modern Times to shut down the business until the allegations were properly addressed as an example of ways that employees can force brewery owners to make real changes.
My thoughts on the topic are simple; I’m a white dude so my experiences and opinions on these breweries is irrelevant, I am doing my best to listen, amplify important voices, and help in any way I can. I hope that this is an inflection point for the industry, and things get dramatically better in a visible way going forward.
In other news:
The Mass Brew Bros and The Ecofriendly Beer Drinker are working to keep PakTech can carriers out of landfills, which is where they will probably end up if you throw them into a standard recycling bin. They have gotten a huge number of local breweries and bottle shops to commit to collecting the carriers for either re-use or recycling, you can find the participating spots on this handy map.
Big news for local beer fans: Massachusetts has updated their COVID restrictions and breweries are now able to open to higher capacity and without mandatory food orders. This is great news for local brewers, but please be smart. If you aren’t fully vaccinated (2 weeks past the last shot) still wear a mask and social distance. If you haven’t started the vaccination process, go and get your shot before you get your beer.
More beer gardens are opening for the season. Jack’s Abby has re-opened their Framingham beer garden, and they have also partnered with Rooftop Bar in Boston. Night Shift is opening an additional beer garden at Assembly Row in Somerville, adding to their significant footprint in metro Boston.
As part of Massachusetts craft beer week Lord Hobo honored the now defunct Mystic Brewery by tapping a keg of Entropy. I am sure it is long gone by now, but it was a nice gesture and we can hope that other kegs of Mystic are still around and waiting to be enjoyed.
The old Backlash space in Roxbury has found a new tenant, Flying Embers brewing will focus on hard kombucha and seltzer along with beers brewed with probiotics.
Docuseries.Live has a new set of documentaries about craft beer, covering the recent history of craft beer in the US and some of the important work that craft breweries do.
A recent article on Porch.com gives advice on home-brewing for those who are just getting started, and includes a section from your favorite local beer blogger (OK, maybe top 5 at least)!
That’s it for May. Hopefully going forward we’ll all be back to brewery visits and enjoying more excellent beers together as we finally move towards the end of this pandemic.