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Good Beer Hunting

Jul 30, 2020

The last several months have been tough for businesses and organizations across beer, as COVID-19 has forced locations to close, and as resulting financial hardships have become more serious every month. In recent weeks, U.S. beer—like much of the country—has also placed increasing emphasis on acknowledging issues of systemic racism and social injustice.

We’ve covered a host of these stories in the written version of Sightlines, and in this podcast, we’re focusing on one other piece of the puzzle. Lately, calls have resonated across social media and beer publications for greater transparency and action from the Brewers Association, a national trade group that represents “small and independent” breweries. Specifically, the focus has rested on the BA’s leadership, and we’re following the journey of a few key individuals who’ve struggled to get answers from Bob Pease, president and CEO of the Brewers Association.

We’ll hear from three people in this episode.

In the first half, we’re going to talk to Toni Boyce, a writer who’s covered the intersection of beer and race, and Bret Kollmann Baker, head of brewing operations at Cincinnati, Ohio’s Urban Artifact brewery. We’ll talk about what happened when they got the chance to talk to Bob, will discuss issues of race in beer, and air some grievances. In the second half, we’ll hear from April Boyce, a vocal beer enthusiast and Toni’s wife, who has spent most of the past month trying to get the Brewers Association and Bob Pease to interact with her on Twitter to no avail.

First, some backstory: Good Beer Hunting recently reported on the Brewers Association’s decision to lay off key staff, as well as its recent hire of a new general counsel, which included the publication of publicly available salary information for Bob Pease and others. That, along with what Toni and Bret saw as a less-than-enthusiastic response from the BA regarding racism and injustice following the death of George Floyd and nationwide protests, pushed Bret to post an angry response on Twitter that eventually led to Pease reaching out to schedule a phone call to talk about Bret’s reaction.

Bret, who is a white man, invited Toni, a Black woman, to the call because he didn’t think it was right for two white guys to hash out issues of race. That’s where we’ll pick things up.

This is the Sightlines podcast. Listen in.