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Standing Up to Sexism and Racism in Craft Beer

Last week, Brienne Allan (@ratmagnet on Instagram) posted up a Questions sticker on her IG Story, inviting women to share stories of the sexist behavior they’ve encountered while working in the craft beer industry. What followed next were hundreds upon hundreds of women speaking up against some of the most egregious sexist, racist, misogynistic, toxic, illegal, and deplorable workplace behavior that you can imagine.

Many of these accusers’ stories were anonymous and did not identify names, however, there were dozens of breweries, owners, and employees named directly of alleged misconduct, many with multiple stories corroborating various instances of abuse. Since then, we’ve seen the fallout of these accusations at a number of breweries around the world – Søren Wagner, founder and head brewer of Dry & Bitter Brewing Co in Copenhagen has taken a leave of absence, Jean Broillet IV, founder of Tired Hands Brewing in Ardmore, PA has stepped aside from daily operations, and Jacob McKean, founder of SoCal darling Modern Times Beer has resigned from the role of CEO of the rapidly growing company. These are just a few of the many men accused of discriminating against, marginalizing, abusing, attacking, and harming women and other minorities in the craft beer community.

I encourage you to follow Brienne (@ratmagnet on Instagram) to stay up to date on the upcoming stories, scroll through her Instagram Highlights to get a sense for the stories that have come out, and check out this spreadsheet with a running list of accusations to get a complete sense for what has transpired over the last week.

While we didn’t really see names from our local Los Angeles breweries come up in these stories (so far), I’m not naive enough to think that this type of behavior doesn’t happen within our local beer community. Sexist comments, off-color jokes, inappropriate touching, sexual abuse, violent behavior, and other unacceptable activities are all too commonplace in the craft beer industry.

As founder of Hopped LA, I’ve dedicated my free time over the last week to read these stories and soak in the magnitude of what they mean to the people involved, our local beer community, the craft beer industry, and our collective legacy as a whole. This is not a beer industry problem. This is a people problem. As humans and as beer consumers, we have a responsibility to treat everyone with dignity, to speak up when we observe inappropriate behavior, to listen when someone expresses their pain and frustration at how they’re being treated, and to hold people and businesses accountable to treating the people they serve and the people they employ with the respect they deserve.

Hopped LA is and will always be a supporter of equality, an ally to women and minorities in craft beer, and a voice for the craft beer community.

Going forward, we will be allocating our limited resources to spread awareness of these issues and actively support meaningful change here at the local LA and Southern California levels. Here are some of the things we’re working on:

  • Bring on a new female contributor to our editorial content team to help produce more written articles, audio podcasts, and/or videos covering diverse perspectives from the local craft beer community. (If you’re interested in this role, please email me!)
  • Start a new women in beer interview series on Instagram Live / IGTV. (If you’re interested in being a guest, please email me!)
  • Launch a new shirt design as a fundraiser for organizations that support diversity, equality, and inclusion efforts in craft beer. (If you’re an artist/designer interested in partnering on this, please email me!)
  • Produce an event series to celebrate women in beer and open up conversations around these issues. (If you’re an event producer or craft beer venue interested in collaborating, please email me!)

With a new baby at home and limited resources available, I can’t promise we’ll get to everything on this list. But I can promise that we’ll continue to advocate for women and minorities in craft beer, that we won’t tolerate discriminatory behavior (no matter how big or small), that we’ll hold accountable the individuals and organizations that perpetuate this behavior, and that we’ll be a safe space and a mouthpiece to amplify the voices of victims of injustice.

Stand up, speak out, and be good to each other.

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