I’m sorry there have been no posts the last few days. I’m suffering through a head cold and sleep hasn’t been coming easy for me.
I wanted to write in response to and update to Bryan Roth’s latest in his series on diversity in craft beer.
The thing I like about craft beer (and US soccer) is that is a subculture of the greater US culture meaning it has all the same problems and issues we struggle with on a whole. Sometimes the people within craft beer culture convince themselves that it is separate from and better than the larger culture. That the people within craft beer are more enlightened and more inclusive.
That may be true, but it ignores that there are still strains and elements from the larger culture within craft beer. Some of those elements reflect the sentiment of some voters in the last election that they are tired of talking about racism, sexism, and sexual orientation. They feel minorities and women should be over it by now and that discussing this stuff is the only reason it still exists. These are the people who name a beer Panty Peeler and say it is just “locker room talk” and if it offends you, you are the one with the problem.
For a long time, the Brewers Association attitude towards diversity in craft beer can be summed up with, “…beer has no gender or race…” and then site statistics that show how far ahead other industries craft beer is particularly when it comes to gender diversity. Craft beer has gotten more diverse as far as race in the last two years. I’ve noticed it from behind the bar. On the production end, movement has been slower. Noticeable, but slower. People within craft beer have been begun asking the Association to do more to accelerate that movement.
This where I think the Association is having a bit of an existential moment. Does it exist solely to be a cheerleader for craft beer by holding events like GABF and Craft Brewers Conference and act as the lobbying arm of the industry? Should it do more, can it do more, and does its membership want it to do more? Before it does anything, the Association needs to answer these questions.
In Bryan’s latest post he mentioned the possibility of the Association sanctioning members who use offensive beer names. The Association is a voluntary member organization, so a good question is how far can you sanction members before they leave the group. This is very similar to the NCAA’s ability or inability to sanction schools that violate its rules. You must penalize just enough to make schools hurt, but not enough to make them leave.
So, what would sanctions look like? Suspension from getting a booth at GABF and/or CBC for a year? Suspension from the GABF competition for a year?
That doesn’t even get into the question as to whether we want the Association to be in the business of regulating the thoughts and words of its membership. This is where the nonexistent committee on diversity would come into play. Each year with their annual report on diversity in craft beer they would list that year’s beer most offensive beer names. In fact, that would lead the report and be the biggest part of the press release. Public shaming is what I’m going for in this instance.