What We Don’t Like Talking About

Sometimes the beer community can feel exciting and warm to anyone that may be interested in participating in it. Unlike the uncomfortable commercials of macro beers from our past where sexy, demi-god-like women’s purpose is to suggestively hand glasses of yellow suds to the bloated everyman, craft beer is heralded as inclusive and welcoming to everyone who just wants to enjoy some beer.

Yet, it doesn’t always feel that way.

Like many industries and instances, craft beer has not been immune to the problems of sexism. There are too many examples of craft beer names and labels that render women as sexualized objects, rather than people who may also enjoy said beer. There are ads where craft beers have been described as “manly” rather than listing what the beer actually tastes like. My personal favourite, to which I am still trying to figure out the best (and most polite) response, is being asked where my beard is upon hearing my job description. 

Our welcoming and inclusive industry sometimes has a hard time trying to walk the line between be a little funny, and being a little offensive. We don’t really like talking about this problem in a meaningful way that creates change. For all the chatter this topic gets every six months on Twitter, there are breweries in Ontario that still have labels with women who are selling sex instead of beer.

So, what’s to be done? If we can’t change the unfortunate labels, how do we try to ensure that this industry is not some boy’s club? That your gender identity has no bearing on your ability to enjoy beer and your capability for working at all levels in this industry? Well, there are several organizations that are doing awesome work to highlight women working in this industry, and bring women closer to beer in general. On the beer drinking side of things, Toronto’s Society of Beer Drinking Ladies and multiple other groups across the country aim to create comfortable spaces for women to experience and geek-out over beer.

On the production side, the Pink Boots Society is an organization that promotes the continued education of women working in the beer industry through scholarship opportunities. 2014 saw the first International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day (IWCBD). A day organized by Sophie de Ronde, a brewing technologist for Muntons Center of Excellence, IWCBD falls on International Women’s Day (March 8th) and encourages women to brew together.

Events and organizations like these are important. They allow everyone to realize there is good work in beer production, and they encourage exploration in tastes (even if you’ve been told you’d only like wheat beers – they’re light!). They welcome those who may not have known anything about beer to come and try it out in a welcoming space. At some point we can stop having these types of events. We can stop counting the number of women achieving in beer and other industries. I’m really looking forward to that.   

In the meantime, we’re inviting interested women to join us on March 5th and brew with us to celebrate IWCBD. You can be an experienced homebrewer, someone who is interested in homebrewing but not too sure how to get started, or even someone who just loves beer and wants to learn more about the production side of things. We’re looking at brewing with lots of salt and lots of brett c, and it’s going to be awesome. 

When the beer is ready we’ll host a launch party at Folly that will include musical guests and a silent auction. Partial proceeds from our IWCBD beer will go towards Working Women Community Centre, an organization which provides services and programs to immigrant women in an effort to help them succeed in Toronto.  

*Due to overwhelming interest in participation, we have decided to remove the sign-up form. Thank you for your interest and stay tuned for updates on our IWCBD beer! (Christina – Jan 13, 2015)


3 thoughts on “What We Don’t Like Talking About

  1. This is great! I wish I could be in town on the 5th so I could sign up.

    The most striking evidence of old world beer culture I’ve come across was in a Beer Garden in Leipzig, Germany. I was feeling like a badass traveler about to sample a traditional Gose in its natural habitat, when I noticed that the menu recommended us ladies add a shot of sweet, flavoured syrup to our beer because it was "frauenfreundlich"- women friendly! What a bummer.

  2. Over in a post at GTA Brews I was just talking about the long standing treatment of women in the beer industry both by macro and micro/craft brewers. There is a patriarchal and rather immature viewpoint that needs to end. I like this article.

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