Aug 15, 2020
It’s no exaggeration to say that the arrival of COVID-19 has completely upended the beer industry. Breweries large and small have had to radically change their approach in order to survive the pandemic. But these changes prompted a major question: why have beer businesses been so willing to overhaul the way things have always been when faced with economic issues, but so reluctant to address long-standing social issues within the industry, like its lack of inclusion and equity?
These imbalances came into sharper focus once the recent Black Lives Matter protests, sparked by the death of George Floyd, shone an even brighter light on the deep-rooted prejudices that oppressed people, and specifically Black people, have always faced in the United States. Neither the pandemic nor protests illuminated fresh injustices. Instead, they highlighted the inherent racism and cracks in the system, and made them impossible for anyone to claim ignorance of.
This led to the three-part series published on Good Beer Hunting: The Time is Now.
Part 1 of the series dives into the business of beer, which journalist Mike Jordan unpacks by explaining the long history of racial inequality in small business, and how it has significantly hindered non-white folks’ ability to gain footholds in entrepreneurship. Part 2 discusses the culture of beer, which former beer industry analytical chemist and equity advocate Toni Boyce unflinchingly examines before Part 3, which looks to the future of beer and what our responsibilities are in working towards a more equitable future. Dr. J. Nikol Jackson-Beckham, the diversity ambassador for the Brewers Association (or the BA) and the founder and executive director of Craft by EDU, leverages her vast experience of working towards that future in the final article.
If you haven’t read Parts 1 through 3, I encourage you to dive into those before listening to this podcast conversation. I’m joined by Toni and Mike, as well as Good Beer Hunting Editor-in-Chief Claire Bullen (who chimes in several times during this discussion) to discuss the piece in its entirety—what we learned, what we’ve experienced, and where we go from here. Dr. J. is currently on a sabbatical, so while she was unable to participate in the podcast, we reference her work and suggestions throughout the conversation.
This is Toni Boyce and Mike Jordan, listen in.