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When the virtual GABF arrives, the craft beer industry faces difficult moments in the face of racism and pandemics – Colorado Sun – Colorado Springs, Colorado

Colorado Springs, Colorado 2020-10-16 06:17:00 –

The craft beer industry, like many Americas, is currently facing two levels of computation.

The pandemic has ended more than a decade of growth, well below the industry’s goal of becoming 20% ​​of the national beer market by 2020, and the racial justice movement is the dominant white male culture of craft beer. And highlighted the lack of diversity.

This combination leads to a cool conversation within the craft beer community as the industry gathers in Denver to toast at the annual Great American Waffle Festival.

The Boulder-based Brewing Society, which hosts the festival, has canceled the country’s largest beer tasting event this year due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. We plan to do the same in 2021. Instead, GABF will move to virtual format with a highly coveted award presentation for two days starting Friday.

The diversity of beer that participates in the annual contest exceeds the racial diversity of the craft beer workforce and community. The issue isn’t new, but the Black Lives Matter protests and consumer demand for more significant changes within the beer industry have amplified the focus on the issue earlier this year.

“I think our trade was slow to think about diversity, and that’s not good,” said Marty Jones, an industry veteran and beer marketer. “But we dropped the ball on a more welcoming trade, and we’re happy that it became a hot topic.”

There are more than 400 breweries in Colorado, and only three are black-owned: Denver’s Novel Strand and Hogshead, and Longmont’s Outworld. Denver’s Spangarang Brewing is in the process of adding a partner called Black. In addition, about 10 breweries in Colorado are owned or concentrated by Latin Americans. The numbers fit the 2018 national numbers, showing that 1% of small, independent breweries are black-owned and 2.4% are Latino-owned.

In 2017, the Brewers Association, a trading group representing independent small-scale brewers across the country, launched programs to address the lack of diversity, including employment and grant programs for diversity ambassadors. However, after faced with criticism that it did not do enough to deal with racist behavior among its members, it took even more important steps in July.

In mid-June, three weeks after George Floyd died in police detention, the association I posted a message It’s on social media that says it’s “solidarity with racial injustice.”

“We strive to build a comprehensive community that feels safe and welcome. We stand up, listen and learn,” he said.

The word did not satisfy critics who wanted the organization to take a stronger position against breweries that used insensitive names for beer or faced allegations of racism. Meanwhile, association leaders said they had lost some members because they decided to speak.

In this week’s interview, the association’s president and chief executive officer, Bob Peas, defended the association, saying it had done “quite” to deal with the diversity of recent years. But he also admitted that “the killing of (George) Floyd and the uptake of the Black Lives Matter movement were a bit slow.”

The Great American Waffle Festival will be held in virtual form from the awards ceremony on Friday. (Provided by the Brewing Society)

“We all want a more diverse and equitable craft beer community,” he continued. “And we all have more work to do. We promise to do that job.”

In July, the Association amended its Articles of Incorporation to allow the dismissal of members. This is a clause that is completely missing from previous management documents. In August, the association introduced a new code of conduct for its members aimed at “eliminating all types of discrimination, harassment and prejudice.” And in September, the association outlined a grievance process that its expert members could use to crack down on other breweries for violations of the Code of Conduct.

“We have seen and heard criticisms and questions about the Silence of the Brewing Society on racial discrimination among its members. Mr. Peas announced a new change in a July statement.” Our limits so far. The public reaction received was not sufficient for many, but it is not the same as indifference. “

Pandemics undermine brewers and industry diversity efforts

Conversations about race and diversity in the craft brewing industry come at difficult times. In the early days of the pandemic, industry outlook suggested that 60% of breweries would not survive until June. These pessimistic forecasts turned out to be too pessimistic, as some breweries were able to get financial support and adapt to the market, but still more than 12 in Colorado. Is closed.

The situation remains sparse, especially for breweries that have built their business with a taproom model that sells beer throughout the bar rather than packaging beer for retail sale. In 2019, the volume of craft beer reached 13.6% of the US market. This is well below the target set a few years ago, partly due to the acquisition from a large brewery.

So far in 2020, overall sales have fallen by about 10%, but brewery on-premises sales have fallen by 40%, the Brewing Society said.

The association is also in a pinch. Due to public health concerns, events (Craft Brewers Conference, Homebrew Con, GABF, etc.) were canceled, resulting in the organization spending about 70% of its annual revenue and severing 23 people, or reducing staff by about 35%. I did. The dismissal led to further criticism of Peas directly regarding protests from brewery guilds across the country and his salary and recent hiring decisions.

Other reductions included reductions in research costs and the temporary abolition of grant programs, including those focused on diversity.

Despite the setbacks, Peas immediately says the association “stays here.” Financial nest eggs built from recent budget tightening and surpluses will continue to do so at reduced levels. “We are resilient. Like the members, we are messed up. We are adapting. We are improvising,” he said. “But like many members, we are certainly injured by a pandemic.”

How fast it bounces depends on when a face-to-face event like GABF happens. The association handed passports to beer fans and traded at breweries nationwide for $ 20, which wouldn’t be a fraction of normal income.

“Who knows when the world returns to normal, and when the new normal looks, so say it with a big” if “, but if a big event comes back, we’re at this point. No longer in 2022 — we’re okay. We will grow again, “Peas said.

In Colorado, breweries take action to address diversity concerns

In Colorado, the Black Lives Matter movement influenced brewery behavior. Greeley’s Weld Werks Brewing has donated $ 10,000 to the local Black Lives Matter branch and Campaign Zero to end the police atrocities. And dozens of people participated in the Black is Beautiful Collaboration Brew, which benefited local social justice charities.

“Colorado breweries recognize not only the lack of customer diversity, but also the lack of staff diversity and how we can create a pipeline to address it,” said the Colorado brewery. Seaney Adelson, guild secretary general, said.

Details: Take a look at your favorite beers and breweries in 2019, and the beers and breweries to watch next year

Earlier this year, Denver’s Station 26 Brewery partnered with Regis University to create a diversity scholarship for undervalued students to complete their school’s brewing certificate program. The first recipient will be named in 2021.

“The brewing industry isn’t that diverse,” said Matthew Petz, director of the program. “Most of them are white men, and I think every industry benefits from diverse opinions and backgrounds.”

Odel Brewing of Fort Collins recently hired people to work on the recruitment process and to coordinate its diversity, equity and inclusion efforts to educate its staff.

Win Odel, co-founder of the brewery and a member of the Brewing Society’s board of directors, said criticism of the brewing industry was a factor, but “all of us awakened in our organization, This is a more pressing concern. “

Jones, a leader in the veteran beer industry, sees this moment as an opportunity. “It’s no wonder that craft beer is a problem. Everyone looks at themselves and wonders if they can do more,” he said.

“There is no better way to get people together and find something in common than to talk politely over a few glasses of beer,” he added.


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