Like so many industries, the craft brewing industry has seen the need for diversity and inclusion, and are taking steps to enact initiatives aimed at addressing obvious inequalities.
In 2019, the Brewers Association published a survey providing statistical data to back up what many knew all along: the majority of those working in breweries, and those consuming beer were white males. According to their website, "from 2015-2018, 81% of new craft drinkers were white, and 19% came from minority groups." This posed a problem to industry professionals, as it meant that they were doing an inadequate job of not only appealing to a varied demographic but also representing those diverse individuals in those responsible for the creation of the beers themselves. "Race and ethnicity demographics of U.S. brewery employees showed a range of 76.2% white for production staff (non-managers) to 89% (brewers)." The gender comparison was only marginally better, with research showing 31.5% female and 68.5% male craft beer drinkers in 2018.
To address this, the Brewers Association and brewers like Yuengling have taken the initiative and created grants, scholarships, and other incentives to reach underserved communities.
Yuengling has partnered with Pink Boots Society to offer a $10,000 scholarship to one female applicant who plans on studying brewing at one of four specified universities. Deadline to enter is March 31st with a launch for a third scholarship window coming in April.
Brewers Association has also taken significant steps in focusing on inclusion. In 2017, they created the "Brewers Association Diversity Committee to identify and address resources to foster a more inclusive craft beer community," hired a diversity ambassador to provide instruction and resources, and launched seminars focused on diversity. This was amplified in the following years, as they created the "Diversity Event Grant Program to fund local and regional events," created diversity best practice resources, instituted a code of conduct, and much more.
Thankfully, not all efforts to enact change are coming from within established organizations, as smaller groups of individuals have taken it upon themselves to create their own support networks.
The Brewing Change Collaborative (BCC) in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is a group of Black, Cuban, Mexican, biracial, Afghan, and LGBTQ+ individuals who work in or are enthusiasts of the brewing industry.
The group started as "a thing to change the spectrum of who we’re seeing, but it also became, not a support group, but a group of support and community that gave back to us more than expected," said Elle Rhodes, one of the three leaders of BCC. Its mission is "to be a place for people of color by promoting diversity, equity, and education," within the brewing community, allowing members to freely discuss the isolation they feel by being so disproportionately represented.
The BCC has taken the initiative to raise money for education and scholarships for its members. "BCC offers growth and support to inject the industry with a more diverse workforce through education," said Rhodes, hoping to take action in creating the change they desire to see.
There are other notable promising movements within the industry. For example, the #IAmCraftBeer initiative, spearheaded by Brewers Association’s Diversity Ambassador Dr. J. Nikol Jackson-Beckham after enthusiast Chalonda White's love for brewing was met with racism. Also, writer Beth Demmon's Diverse Beer Writers Initiative aims to open journalistic opportunities for minority individuals within the brewing industry.
While there are still many steps to be taken, a willingness to address the issues of diversity and inclusion has made the road ahead to look promising for the brewing industry. Its willingness to acknowledge the problem and take steps to address it may eventually help break the stigma that "craft beer is only for white men with beards."
As Chalonda White so eloquently put it: "It’s a lot of other people–people of different races, religions, cultures, colors. Beer is a rainbow, and I’m loving it."
- The Diversity Data Is In: Craft Breweries Have Room and Resources for Improvement
- Brewing Change Collaborative Tackles Diversity in the Twin Cities Beer Community
- Outspoken Advocates for Diversity in Beer Enter 2020 Cautiously Optimistic
- Yuengling: Industry
- Shifting Demographics Among Craft Drinkers