Thrillist "Almost No Black People Brewing Craft Beer" wins James Beard Award

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by JayORear, May 3, 2016.

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  1. JayORear

    JayORear (670) Feb 22, 2012 Pennsylvania
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    jamvt, woemad, Premo88 and 3 others like this.
  2. TriggerFingers

    TriggerFingers (0) Apr 29, 2012 California

    Mmmkcr, Shanex, Raj and 2 others like this.
  3. BumpkinBrewer

    BumpkinBrewer (0) Jan 6, 2010 Massachusetts

    Yet she hasn't been hired by anyone in the industry...hmmm.

    “I tried for the longest time to break into the brewing world,” she told me. “I applied to several dozen different local breweries, and breweries that were out of state, and I got nothing. Crickets, chirping at a field.” She was consummately chipper in the hour we spent on the phone, but in this one moment, her voice turned glum.

    edit: oops forgot
  4. JayORear

    JayORear (670) Feb 22, 2012 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    Yes, she's a major figure in the article.
  5. pat61

    pat61 (0) Dec 29, 2010 Minnesota

    It is an interesting article. I think the author overstates his point about the historical racism in prohibition. From my reading the racism driving the temperance movement was more white Anglo Saxon protestant against anyone who was not. A lot of anti-catholic, anti-Irish, anti-German, anti-Spanish, anti-Mexican, anti-Italian and anti-Eastern European sentiment drove the temperance movement as well as racism and anti-working class sentiments. In terms of the low numbers of Blacks in craft brewing, I think economic equality would solve that problem.
  6. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled (1,085) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    Great article; not in its specifics, but in where it leads. It opens up the idea of craft brewing as being racially separate, and I think looks towards a conversation about that.

    That said, as a brewer myself I've employed black people, both male and female, and I know that there's a strong constituent of black home brewers as well. Perhaps that's simply because I'm from Philadelphia, a city with a solid black population, and perhaps not.

    The last time I was at a bar (2nd Story Brewing) there were just as many blacks and latinos as there were whites. Additionally, there were also Asians, and there are now quite a few Asian-owned beer ventures. Stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason, but times change.

    The only point I'll add to the whole conversation is that I think it's fine to have separate cultures with cultural differences, and in fact that's part of what makes the world great! As an example, and not to make a joke, there aren't that many black ice-hockey players, and there's a reason for that which has nothing to do with anything more than the most common surrounding circumstances - and as those circumstances change, so will the cultural differences.

    I welcome anyone of any color (or sexuality, or religion) to enjoy a beer with me :slight_smile:
    #6 NeroFiddled, May 3, 2016
    Last edited: May 3, 2016
  7. David_Deas

    David_Deas (0) Jan 26, 2016 North Carolina

    Why was that thread closed?

    Part of me finds it humorous that the author kept connecting African-American brewers and African-American craft beer drinkers to African style Sorghum ales. Are African Americans not Americans too?
    TonyLema1, ShyRonnie, rgordon and 2 others like this.
  8. Premo88

    Premo88 (0) Jun 6, 2010 Texas

    If I could like your post x1000, it still wouldn't be enough. The thread could've shut down after your prose above.

    My little $0.02, since you brought up hockey:

    MLB, NFL, NHL, NASCAR and the PGA Tour(s) all have very different racial makeups, both in the superstructure of the leagues as well as the fan bases and overall environments. But the differences have almost nothing to do with current ongoing racism -- or they don't explain the entire racial picture. Not in 2016. "The most common surrounding circumstances" do explain the differences, or explain more of the picture. Historical racism does explain some of it, especially in NASCAR and golf, but that effect is diminishing and has been for years.

    I hate to be Simple Simon, and I fully understand a minority-owned business may find hurdles a majority-owned business may not depending on what part of the country they're trying to start up in, but my bet is when more African-American homebrewers and entrepreneurs want to start new craft breweries, we'll see more blacks in craft beer.

    History suggests it won't happen quickly.
    foundersfan1 likes this.
  9. jbakajust1

    jbakajust1 (0) Aug 25, 2009 Oregon

    From the article: "the only people in the bar are me (white)"

    Not a minority whining about being a minority, it is a white person noticing the lack of diversity in the current beer culture and asking a very important question.
  10. BrokenEdge

    BrokenEdge (0) Dec 15, 2015 Pennsylvania

    My response is much along the lines of the "craft is sexist" thread a while back: no one's stopping non-white people from getting into beer.

    I think the article is ridiculous to say beer has a history of racism (newsflash: so did nearly everything else at that point in history) so that's why black people don't feel welcomed. I have never seen or heard of anyone being actively discriminated based on skin color, and can't really believe that any reputable craft brewery or bar would, given how open minded most are. I think black people who are concerned about "not acting black enough" and who lump all craft drinkers/brewers together as neckbeards (as some of the black people interviewed did) are segregating themselves by not wanting to do "white" things. There are probably plenty of black people who would love craft beer if only they could get over their own prejudices. Or maybe black people are just like the majority of the population, white included, and don't care much about beer at all, so they're content with malt liquor or Budweiser. Maybe it's even possible something about beer doesn't appeal to black people's taste buds; some people pointed out in the seixism thread that women tend to prefer wine because of the fruity flavors, and men tend to prefer bitterness so they usually go for beer. I don't see this as an epidemic or something white people should feel guilty about. If black people want to get more involved with beer, they are more than welcome to.
    ogman, evilcatfish, djuhnk and 6 others like this.
  11. BrewsingBuffalo

    BrewsingBuffalo (0) Jul 6, 2015 New York

    I agree that it's asking an important question. Except it is not examined that there could be no deep philosophical reason why this is case at all. It could just be a function of different cultures liking different things. Of course, with me having very little faith in humanity, discrimination could very well be a culprit here.

    But I wonder this, why are we obsessed with diversity? If certain groups gravitate to certain people naturally, why are we forcing diversity? If it's a problem dealing with prejudice, that it absolutely needs to be changed-we are an educated society. But how certain are we that certain groups just tend to like certain people and things? After all, different groups of people do tend to have very different cultures- wouldn't that indicate we are just simply different and want to keep to ourselves? Is there a problem with that?

    I am not making any concrete assertions, just some things to discuss/ponder.
  12. MikeP64

    MikeP64 (0) Jan 24, 2015 South Carolina

    Seems to me that any 'homebrewer of the year' would not have a hard time being employed in the if she only had a beard....
  13. algebeeric_topology

    algebeeric_topology (445) Dec 30, 2014 Florida

    Sorry for editing your post. I wanted to make it clear which question I was answering.

    Rather than diversity, let's call whatever it is we should aspire to as "inclusivity." In all aspects of life, we should want to make sure we're being as inclusive as we can if for no other reason than selfishly because we each want the best beer (though this applies well beyond beer) we can drink, who cares who brewed it. If there's some impediment to that, then we aren't being as inclusive as we can be. For example, see the homebrewer mentioned in the article. How many breweries that passed on hiring her could be brewing better beer with her on their staff?

    Another important thing to look at it is the structural component regarding who can spend $15-$20 on a 4 pack or bomber. It isn't that breweries price beer at this level to actively discriminate, but there should be an honest admission of who can participate in some aspects of craft beer.
  14. BrokenEdge

    BrokenEdge (0) Dec 15, 2015 Pennsylvania

    Who's to say she was passed over because she was black? Or a woman? Maybe she didn't have the experience they wanted, maybe they weren't hiring for the position she would most qualify for, maybe they promoted someone internally...we don't know. Why do people jump to conclusions about racism when we have no real evidence? You frame this like the breweries she applied to denied her because she wasn't a bearded white guy, but I don't necessarily think that's the case.

    This is frustrating. I am firmly lower middle class, I make around $20k a year and live in a nice but very small apartment. Beer is not my only hobby, I also enjoy expensive things such as tattoos and buying CDs/vinyl. I usually have to save for months to be able to afford nice things. And I live in state where beer is expensive. Most of my beer purchases come from local breweries, where a 6 pack might run between $9 - $14, I occasionally splurge on nicer stuff or bombers but it's rare. When I go to bars, I normally have one or two beers, partly because I usually drive, and partly because it's expensive to drink at bars. I will probably never be as ingrained in the culture as some of you guys who drive hours to get rare and expensive beer, but I'm still involved. Income doesn't mean you can't get involved at all, it just means you have to budget yourself a little more. Unless someone is on welfare (and hell, even then sometimes), chances are they have some disposable income and there's some degree they can involve themselves if they really want to. And if they are on welfare, they probably have bigger concerns than the percentages of black people in craft bars/breweries.
    ogman, joelwlcx, djuhnk and 14 others like this.
  15. CayseyW

    CayseyW (0) Mar 7, 2013 Connecticut

    I think this is an important issue to raise from an economic perspective, as well. Asking this question is imperative to continuing the growth of this industry, which is something we should all want as "beer advocates." The love of craft beer transcends cultures, but it's pretty obvious that it's not all that diversified. That may in fact be changing slowly, which is good, but the recent craft boom could be more of a bubble if the demographics don't expand--both on the consumer side and the business side. And it's absolutely important to further this conversation by looking at how all this could relate to socioeconomics and a history of systemic racism. These are uncomfortable topics, but they can't be dismissed or brushed off as if we have gotten past all that.
  16. algebeeric_topology

    algebeeric_topology (445) Dec 30, 2014 Florida

    I don't assume the playing field is level? If someone thinks its impossible a black woman was rejected for employment in a (white) male dominated field, then we have a different conversation first. “I tried for the longest time to break into the brewing world,” her words, not mine. Sure, lots of people probably into the brewing world, but it seems she can brew a beer.

    I don't understand what I said that is frustrating. I said "participate in some aspects," and you listed all of the ways your participation is limited or that you have to be more mindful to participate. You're making my point. I said "some aspects" because some craft beer is super accessible and some craft beer is super inaccessible. You're probably not inline at a release with 3 friends whose allotments you're buying. You're probably not buying up allotments via online ticket sales (which already require a certain kind of availability given the way they sell out though I guess you could argue one who is entirely jobless has the biggest advantage for spamming refresh there). You're probably not participating heavily in any secondhand markets for beer. You're probably not buying all the beers on tap when some hot tap takeover happens and the beers are gone in 30 minutes. I guess all of that was to say on the positive side, you probably aren't participating in any of the worst aspects of craft beer (other than stupid threads about style guidelines which I don't can't speak to your involvement in). None of these observations are a judgement, and none make you any less into craft beer.

    You hit the nail on the head with how income affects the way one participates in craft beer but it's incomplete to have conversations about that without also speaking to race and gender.
  17. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz (525) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    She works for the Pico-brew Zymatic people.
    szmnnl99 likes this.
  18. laketang

    laketang (0) Mar 22, 2015 Arizona

    anybody can brew beer! they just have to want to, so we'll see what happens in the future of brewing beer.actions speak louder than words.
    mactrail likes this.
  19. DerelictPI

    DerelictPI (0) Dec 26, 2010 New York

    As the article said, read Coates (including his new run on Black Panther). I think this article sheds light on a topic that needs more discussion.

    I'm a typical looking craft beer drinker (white, male, beard, bald, belly, etc.) and my wife is half black. Being with her I can't help but notice diversity, or the lack thereof, when we are at different things. I definitely see an overwhelming number of people who look like me, compared to minorities and females, when at beer events and establishments. I know several females who are way more into beer than I am, but who constantly face "are you a mule" type questions. We (the "typical" craft drinker) should make sure we are being cool and inclusive in these settings.
  20. BrokenEdge

    BrokenEdge (0) Dec 15, 2015 Pennsylvania

    I see no reason to bring gender into it. The wage gap as it's perpetuated by the media isn't real. The only privilege that exists is class, and it transcends race and gender.

    You worded your comment as a way to suggest why more minorities are not craft beer drinkers/brewers, as though lower income is a roadblock (and as though all black people are in poverty). It isn't. I might not buy as much or as frequently as some of you guys do, but I still am able to participate. I knew craft had a reputation for being expensive, but I never thought to myself "I don't make enough money to do that, better not even give it a try." I just feel like it's a cop out if people are thinking that because people should find solutions for their minor setbacks instead of feeling sorry for themselves and not even trying it. Homebrewing is relatively cheap from what I understand (if you're any good, you can get way more decent beer per ounce than buying it at a store) and there's no one stopping lower income people (regardless of color) from going that route if they wanted to. A white person can be just as limited with their finances and still be involved in craft beer, that was my point, and that was what was frustrating. There are affordable ways to be a craft drinker/brewer, regardless of your income, and to suggest otherwise is just wrong. The average black income is about what I make, but I make do.

    I don't see any reason to suggest that someone's income level determines their interests, regardless of race. You want to buy that barrel aged stout bomber that costs $50? Great. Some people can just reach in their wallet and pull out the cash right then and there without hesitation, some people might need to wait until their next payday (or the next next one) and set aside the money to be comfortable with that purchase. I'm one of the latter (although I don't buy into the hype of that style so would probably rather buy a case of something else :grinning:). You don't need to be the first type of person to participate. This just perpetuates the rich, snooty, hipster (and yes, white) stereotype of craft beer when in actuality, it's much more inclusive than that. These kinds of damaging stereotypes are what keep people from getting involved in the first place. What self respecting, lower income, black person would even want to be caught dead in a craft bar when they're thinking it's all rich white people talking about their yachts or some shit? People are discouraged right from the get go because they think they won't belong without even giving it a try first. And yes, I do think there's some concern among black folks about if they're "acting black" enough, so as long as the snooty white craft drinker archetype continues, the whole community suffers.

    The best way to be inclusive (in a natural way, not a forced bars-should-be-this-percentage-black-drinkers type way) and get other races and genders involved is not to treat them in a condescending manner or victimize them, but empower them to find solutions to their problems and to follow their interests freely. I don't see anyone holding black people back from craft beer, so I think we will gradually see a loosening up of the attitude of it being a "white" thing as craft continues to get more prominent. As long as no one is actively discriminating, black people are free to drink and brew craft if they want to, and if we don't see much of an increase, that's fine too. Then I stand by my point of black people just not being interested, and I see no problem if craft doesn't meet some sort of quota for black people.
  21. Scott17Taylor

    Scott17Taylor (0) Oct 28, 2013 Iowa
    Society Trader

    A lot of people here are looking at this the wrong way. A smaller number of minorities into craft beer isn't why this is racist it is someone who is obviously qualified not given an opportunity. If craft beer stays mostly white that means nothing, but there should be equal opportunity for anyone to get into the industry and craft beer fans of all groups, whether racial, class, gender, age etc, should be welcomed and treated the same as anyone else.
    Mmmkcr, Kevin67, bushycook and 2 others like this.
  22. dennis3951

    dennis3951 (0) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    This problem would be a good one for True Craft" to start working on.
    rgordon and drtth like this.
  23. BrewsingBuffalo

    BrewsingBuffalo (0) Jul 6, 2015 New York

    The problem is that people actually think Equal Opportunity exists (for the record, I fully agree with the idea in theory.) The issue is that people think only minorities get discriminated against, but the reality is every type of person is. The people who are applying are at the whim of who is in charge. I could be the most qualified candidate for a job, but the person in charge could find my appearance undesirable. Little stuff like that happens all the time. EO is an illusion. We are at the whim of the various biases of those in charge. Have you ever stopped and thought "Hmm, it's odd that this particular business has hired all young, attractive females.." - Do you honestly believe that those people are ALL the most qualified for the job? Probably not, but businesses don't care. They care about what sells and what will make them the most money. There is no empirical proof that black people are discriminated against in craft beer. The numbers may suggest it, but correlation does not imply causation.
    5thOhio and szmnnl99 like this.
  24. dennis3951

    dennis3951 (0) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    Who is the most "qualified" is also just a matter of opinion. One might be the best brewer in the world but if you can't get along with co-workers ect many bosses will feel you are not qualified.
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  25. BrewsingBuffalo

    BrewsingBuffalo (0) Jul 6, 2015 New York

    Great point. Indeed, different employers look for different attributes. (which may muddle the waters even further when trying to analyze whether something is discriminatory or not)
    VABA and 5thOhio like this.
  26. Vivified

    Vivified (0) Jul 9, 2014 California

    I understand your sentiment but I was merely pointing out that statement I was quoting has quite a bit of unintended racism. He's asking if breweries really want to engage minorities in the craft world...? I mean there are cons to this right? HOW IS THIS IS A REAL QUESTION? Complete statement for context.
  27. ElChuques

    ElChuques (0) Oct 8, 2014 Arkansas

    If there are banks refusing loans to prospective breweries because the owners are black, that is a massive issue. On the other hand, forcing diversity in craft beer seems impossible and condescending.
    #27 ElChuques, May 4, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2016
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  28. Respect_For_Saaz

    Respect_For_Saaz (0) Mar 31, 2016 Canada (ON)

    How is it not a real question? For the same reasons you don't see as many minorities in Nordstrom as you do in Wal-Mart, K-Mart, or Venture. Should breweries start making beer that is affordable for ALL, just to eliminate perceived (and totally non-existent) "racism"? This is like asking Nordstrom to start selling Starter gear or Champion athletic gear in order to better engage minorities.

    Look...there are plenty of places for even the poorest of people to get beer. The Craft Beer world is a higher end type of thing. So again, for the same reason you don't see many minorities driving Rolls Royce's (ok maybe a bad example since every NFL player seems to own one), shopping at Nordstrom, or playing golf at the country clubs, you don't see many minorities in craft beer.

    So IF this is a problem at all (which I don't think it is as everyone is granted the same opportunities in life for the most part), it is a society problem, not a FREAKING CRAFT BEER PROBLEM!!!!
    5thOhio, mwa423, hopnado and 2 others like this.
  29. FSUlaw-and-brew

    FSUlaw-and-brew (0) Jul 20, 2015 Florida

    I've always thought it was a fairly simple idea. This also aligns with sports as well, as previously stated. Sports such as Baseball, hockey, lacrosse, etc. all require an expensive start up, baseball decreasingly so. But if you've ever played competitively you begin to realize bats and gloves range into the hundreds, not including uniform fees and traveling costs of a travel ball team who has warm ups, more than 4 different uniforms, and travels across their region and play sometimes more than 50 games. The same goes with hockey, lacrosse, golf etc. However, with sports like basketball, all you need is a pair of shoes, a ball and a place to play, and with football, all you need is a pair of cleats, and a majority of the time, leagues, junior high's and high schools will pay for the rest. Same goes for non sporting hobbies, and craft beer is not an exception. This is further backed by the lack of resources, including people to provide guidance. How does one from the projects gain entrance into craft beer, when everyone they know are also not involved in craft beer? How to change it is a complete different story.

    TLDR: boils down to socio-economics, minorities are a majority of the low socio-economic group and start up costs are high thus discouraging entrance into the market.
    drtth and Respect_For_Saaz like this.
  30. beertoro

    beertoro (0) Nov 16, 2015 New Jersey

    Funny because I thought craft beer was one of the most universally accepting cultures within America.

    I think this has to do more with economic stance versus the culture of craft beer itself.

    And I say this as a "minority". I can now afford to travel to Boston, to Philly, etc, etc, etc... but about five years ago, I couldn't, and the best I could do was a six pack of Yuengling. No way I was getting into craft beer at that point, much less being a home-brewer or working at a brewery at the time. As the scope broadens, there will be more Olivers out there.
    szmnnl99 and Respect_For_Saaz like this.
  31. Shanex

    Shanex (765) Dec 10, 2015 France
    Society Trader

    Its a sensitive topic and I wasnt expecting it to pop up on BA.. Worth discussing of course.. But I dont expect it to end too well. I cant speak for Americans neither for home brew or the craft scene. However Im familiar with the bar and pub scene here in W. Europe.. Oh we have biggots too like everywhere but for the most part I found most places in London, Paris and Brussels pretty diverse.

    I agree with your last point but Im not sure its only 'race' related.. I mean the way others will treat you. Maybe its different here in Europe but even within a country and sharing a nationality you may be frowned upon for being from a different region or city disliked in such and such cities you are traveling, regardless of the skin color.

    Biggotry or prejudices maybe. Stupidity for sure.
  32. Scott17Taylor

    Scott17Taylor (0) Oct 28, 2013 Iowa
    Society Trader

    I can't speak for Europe, I've never been there. In America racism is still a problem, but I do agree it's not only race that can become a problem.
  33. deleted_user_950283

    deleted_user_950283 (0) Feb 25, 2015

    Regardless of who you are your work should speak for itself. Unless you were born into money it's hard to make a huge name for yourself in the business world yet the best way is to try and work extremely hard. If you can make beer and it's great I believe you will be recognized. Never bought or loved a beer because of anything other than the product. At the same time I try not to tell others what to do. I'll share beer with anyone I can and a few have really liked it and taken up this same mantle. Guess what, they weren't all caucasian males.
    VABA and Brolo75 like this.
  34. KCUnited

    KCUnited (0) Nov 11, 2014 Arizona

    "It was at this point that I realized Garrett Oliver probably gets asked about being a black guy in craft beer more than he does about craft beer itself."

    This is where I wish I would've stopped reading. Any meaningful attempt at generating an honest conversation got shown for the troll article it really is. This man is a professional brewer, he likely talks beer all day, everyday.
    ogman, PatrickCT, 5thOhio and 2 others like this.
  35. captaincoffee

    captaincoffee (0) Jul 10, 2011 Virginia
    Society Trader

    The numbers show that the low numbers of black brewers could not be random chance. The causation is likely numerous factors--racism, economic opportunity, availability of loans (another topic where racism comes up), demographic concentration in areas without a good business case for a brewery, etc.
    #35 captaincoffee, May 5, 2016
    Last edited: May 5, 2016
  36. dennis3951

    dennis3951 (0) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    [QUOTE="NeroFiddled, post: 4739930, member: 526"

    The only point I'll add to the whole conversation is that I think it's fine to have separate cultures with cultural differences, and in fact that's part of what makes the world great! As an example, and not to make a joke, there aren't that many black ice-hockey players, and there's a reason for that which has nothing to do with anything more than the most common surrounding circumstances :slight_smile:[/QUOTE]
    Not to make a joke but how do we explain the absence of black plumbers? The problem of racism in the USA is old and deep. A forum on a beer site is not the place to talk about it.
    HopliteMpls612 likes this.
  37. David_Deas

    David_Deas (0) Jan 26, 2016 North Carolina

    And the one black guy who is in craft beer is getting trolled right now in the "Racy Indiana Beer" article for producing a beer called Sex and Candy. How's that for welcoming?

    I mean, come on? Out of all the people with sexy bottle labels they pick on the black guy? I don't know man. Sounds like a conspiracy to me.
    #37 David_Deas, May 6, 2016
    Last edited: May 6, 2016
    PatrickCT likes this.
  38. Jeffwise

    Jeffwise (0) Jun 12, 2014 Pennsylvania

    I don't believe this has anything to do with race I think it has very much to do with surroundings also. Being near Baltimore and seeing the liquor stores in the rougher neighborhoods... You aren't going to find any craft beer because there's no demand. Which is because 98% of those going in there are going to buy what every other person around them is buying.
    Biff_Tannen and Respect_For_Saaz like this.
  39. Dando274

    Dando274 (0) Jan 12, 2016 Pennsylvania

    It isn't racist for different people to have different interests.

    If someone qualified is denied employment on the basis of their race that would be racist and that would be a story.
    5thOhio, TonyLema1, pjeagles and 5 others like this.
  40. Respect_For_Saaz

    Respect_For_Saaz (0) Mar 31, 2016 Canada (ON)

    This is pretty much what I was trying to say. Thank you
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