As an industry, we have been on a tear growing like a native weed. When the market share was barely in double digits, the Brewers Association rallied us with a quest for 20% market share by 2020. As with any rapid growth, there have been some consequences, but for the most part it has been a great trajectory. There have been some bumps in the road; some things that banded us together in strength and a few that have caused internal strife. A sign of being in an industry that is more than a job, but a career is its resiliency and ability to continue to grow by holding values in check. All these things add up to a healthy place where thinking outside the box is rewarded, not punished. Ideally, this freedom would allow people to continue to be creative with ideas not previously conceived. While most are doing their best to lead things into the unknown, there are a few sliding backwards into a place I had hoped was in the rearview; sexism. I have never understood the need for this in life, and most certainly not in an industry I hold in such high regard. While I cannot understand what it’s like to be affected directly from sexism as a man, I cannot condone this behavior from anyone. These actions do not benefit the industry, nor do they strengthen anyone’s position as we continue to fight other forces to keep craft brewing strong. Brewing has a long history, and women have played integral roles in its healthy growth. The initial undertones were surprising and elicited mutterings of “really, this is still happening?” Shortly after this years Craft Brewers Conference wrapped, the B.A. sent a message to the industry. USA Today then picked this up and wrote this piece. In 2016, craft brewers held various records, including the fact that 17% of CEO’s in craft beer were women. This is a good number that has room to grow. What is particularly poignant is the fact that the next closest percentage was 4.6% for all Fortune 500 companies. Another encouraging number is 21%. That is the percentage of female executives in craft brewing, 6.4% more than female executives in Fortune 500 companies.
One of the many great things about craft beer is the comradery. Sharing ideas, collaboration brews, welcoming new fans of beer alongside folks who have enjoyed beer for years are just a few of the things that rejuvenate us all to get up each morning and heft bags of grain and mash out at the end of a long day. I know many strong, passionate, creative women in brewing who have taught me so much about life, as well as beer and brewing. Let’s not forget to be welcoming to people within our great field. After all, the idea is to grow craft beer; not to slip backwards to a darker time where things weren’t as positive and convivial. Cheers to continued successes and growth, and more places where all are welcome and feel welcome to enjoy the affirmative fruits of our labor.