Can The Beer Industry Be Saved?

By Ash Eliot

I’ve had what feels like thousands of conversations these past few weeks. While most of my conversations have been with women, I am eager to hear from men. Though several responses I’ve seen and heard feel disheartening. Change seems long ways away. Whether it’s questioning a story shared by @RatMagnet and @EmboldenActAdvance or because people weren’t actually named but it’s obvious who it is, men are continuing to go about their business until we do call them out or tell them who they shouldn’t work with or have on their staff. Which is a whole other level of being problematic. Then you have men and also women saying “Hey, I am here to brew” or “I don’t want to share anything political” on social media because the audience is a majority male leaning and they don’t want to lose followers since that will affect their business and future opportunities. Or you have men who host podcasts and are now considered a “public figure” like @TheMegamanPodcastPage who says on social media “To all the craft beer people, I do not care about your craft beer politics or your high school fucking drama, so leave me out. I want to talk beers, get drunk with the guys and get fucked up. That’s it. Later.” As much as I don’t want to give this guy the time of day, his response sums up the industry. He then filmed a 3 minute response saying “woman up” and “chill out,” which you can watch here.

Also today, over 70 former BrewDog employees plus 45 who were afraid to come forward publicly wrote a letter to James Watt, CEO of BrewDog, which you can read below and his response stating “It is fair to say that this type of fast paced and intense environment is definitely not for everyone but many of our fantastic long term team members have thrived in our culture.” Yeah “culture” – he’s cultivating a society of toxicity.

This is where we are at. Men still control how and what happens to women as well as BIPOC and LGBTQ+ in beer. While this industry is still in the prehistoric era, and don’t get me wrong I’m not talking about the style of beer because ancient ales and wild ales need a comeback, but in terms of doing business, culture and keeping up with the fucking times, it’s way behind. Dinosaurs still dictate what happens in this industry, and with big beer driving consumerism, it’s no surprise craft beer is left scrambling to keep up. Now, with a spotlight on how non-inclusive and how poorly women have been treated in the industry, we’re all left wondering, “Can the beer industry be saved?” and “Will women leave the industry altogether?” While my hopes are women leave jobs to start their own business or collaborate with other women. The industry is still led by men. And many who are saying the same shit as @TheMegaManPodcastPage that they don’t want to “be political” – when in fact women’s rights, creating an inclusive environment and adhering to standard business practices should not be political. Believing women is not political. Providing a safe environment for women, non-binary individuals, BIPOC, LGBTQ+ should not be perceived as “political.” 

So where do we go from here? In my gut, I’m all for this Bevolution and I will do whatever it takes to advocate for change. But if we leave things as is, what does that mean for beer in the long run? If women leave the industry, how does that affect the female consumer? Could the beer industry just die off if they’re not adhering to a more progressive and inclusive consumer? Whatever the answers may be and however you’re feeling right now, this affects you, culture and the future of the beer industry. It’s time to pick a side – are you for the change or will you just sit by until it directly affects you? Thousands of women have shared stories about discrimination, sexual assault and harassment. Those stories have meaning. Those voices deserve recognition and action. These businesses, this industry needs to be held accountable. Let’s not allow history repeat itself.

Let’s fucking change the (beer) world.

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