Craft beer isn’t as woke as it thinks it is

Sometimes I feel like craft beer nerds hang out in a space that is its own little bubble – talking about upcoming beers, rating the latest trends, and sharing in-joke memes about beer styles that the average Joe has never heard of.

But today, that craft bubble burst today when David Gaughan, the owner of Eagle Brewing in Christchurch was outed for posting a racist comment on a 1 NEWS Facebook post.

People caught on pretty quickly, probably partially because his company logo apparently was his profile picture.

Rookie mistake, dude.

This could have probably been sorted out by the company pretty quickly and with less of an impact than what happened, if they had dropped him and offered a proper, thought out apology.

Instead this happened:

Which was deleted and replaced with this:

Which I’m truly confused as to why they thought that was a better option…?!?!? Probably why they also deleted that post.

And David himself posted this:

I really want to break down the “apologies” and explain exactly why they are awful, even the best one is terrible.

But all I’ll say is, using violence against women as a red herring to detract from some disgusting, aggressive racism is a fucking disgrace.

No one should be using women as pawns to make others thing they’re the good guy. “Won’t someone think of the ladies?!” is a pathetic mask to put over a horrific comment like that about Māori people.

As a mixed race Pacific Islander woman and a survivor of rape and abuse, I have ONLY been abused by white men. So firstly, anyone can fuck off with that racist rhetoric that this is a brown male problem. It happens in all level of society, regardless of race or class, unfortunately.

But secondly, I want to raise something I’ve been thinking about for a while.

The craft beer scene isn’t as woke as it thinks it is

Craft beer is a subsection of an overall beer culture that exists all over the world.

Within NZ, where I grew up and live now, it’s clear that the general beer culture here is pretty toxic in its masculinity. Even though, as times change it’s improving, there are many men whose entire identities are tied to the beer they drink and the branding it brings with it. Which I cbf getting into now, but it’s historically been pretty undeniably misogynistic.

And I’ve been a beer drinker since I was a teenager so I’ve seen how female beer drinkers have been treated and how it’s changed over the past 15 years.

I’ve never felt more accepted and seen as when NZ moved more into the craft beer scene. When I go into craft beer bars/breweries and ask questions and get tasters, I’m rarely condescended to. Which is, unfortunately, a treat, because I always used to get annoyingly gendered treatment, even when I clearly knew what I was talking about.

In saying that, craft beer is clearly a white man’s game.

All types of men drink your general, more mass produced beers. But have you seen the diversity at a craft beer festival?

In the last bar I worked in, they took polaroids of brewers who came in for a drink and put them up on the wall. I used to joke that there were more white men with beards than POC or women combined on that wall (is it a joke when it’s true? 🤔).

It gets pretty old to feel like you’re the outsider in someone else’s community.

And because I pass as white, I can’t say I’ve experienced the race side of craft beer. But as a woman with a craft beer Instagram, who has brewed some beers, worked in many bars and one specifically craft beer bar, I can 100% speak to the female experience in that area.

I personally think that craft beer has a Nice Guy™ problem. And I think it leads to situations like Mr Eagle Brewing to arise as if it’s a big old surprise, even though WE ALL KNOW that there are many toxic men within the craft beer scene.

Just because you’re a woke boi who considers yourself a feminist, doesn’t mean you don’t contribute to a community that allows awful men to continue existing and succeeding.

I worked in a bar for all of 3 months and in that time was introduced to two different prominent men who it turns out have rape accusations against them that…. everyone seems to know about…???

And then people are like… I wonder why there aren’t more women in craft beer? They have all the access they need, I guess they CHOOSE not to be in it because wimenz prefer vino. As if they aren’t regularly supporting a man who has multiple allegations.

Does this seem like a safe space for women to you?

Nice Guys™ are also not immune to getting drunk and sleazing on women around them. The casual leg gropes. The invitations round for high ABV beers from their cellar. The sliding into the DMs and commenting on women sexually.

Like, fuck off. This isn’t a safe space for women, and just because you buy from Beer Baroness or support Pink Boots, doesn’t make you a safe person.

This stands the same for people of colour.

My beer related social media was suspiciously quiet last year around the BLM movement, which raised all sorts of highly publicised racial issues in the US and around the world.

In NZ, we have serious racial inequality when it comes to our Māori and Pacific Island folks.

I’ve also noticed that Māori and PI people are very underrepresented in the craft beer scene. And it’s rarely spoken of, especially not in the bigger conversations of; why is there a serious lack of diversity here, and how can we change it?

At least with women, the gender gap in the space is discussed. And we do get to be pretty faces behind the bars to sell your beers.

However, as much as I’ve had great chats about how we get women into beer (and varied explanations about why we don’t need to….), I’ve had zero about race.

People like David Gaughan don’t come from nowhere. They come from a society that perpetuates that racist line of thinking, and a lack of people calling them out on their bullshit.

I guarantee you someone he knows knew that he was racist and didn’t say anything. And now look where it’s gotten him. Him and his brewery are being annihilated online through news articles, comments, reviews, and people pouring their beers down the sink.

You know what’s better than this aggressive reaction to, what is unfortunately, not an uncommon belief? Using that Nice Guy, woke boy energy, and doing something with it BEFORE it gets to this.

You’re all big white boys with beards and privilege. Use your deep manly voices and help your friends stop being predators towards women, and bigoted assholes. Help them grow and learn before they hurt individuals and communities.

And eventually, it’ll help them avoid the inevitable future backlash when they get caught out, because it’s 2021 now and people are being held accountable for their actions.

A lot of you guys have been wonderful friends to me since I decided to jump on Instagram with my beer posts, and I’m so glad to be a part of the community.

But this stuff gets old, and I want to see you nice guys be actual nice guys and make sure that this isn’t a regular thing that happens.

And one way of doing that IS getting more diversity into the craft beer business. In breweries and in bars. All sorts of diversity too, gender, sexuality, race, ability, etc.

Diversity is KNOWN to improve products by bringing in new ways of thinking and working.

And that sounds way more fun than cancelling a brewery every other month.

Cheers 🍻

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