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Hop Take: The Beer Industry Is Still Sexist, but All Brewers Are Not Misogynists

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Earlier this week, an extremely misguided tweet appeared on Stone Brewing’s “Arrogant Bastard” Twitter account.

It read: “My technique that will help wash away the ordinariness of your day (or for rare few, cap off a day of significance). Put me in your mouth. Make an *Mmm* sound. Swallow. Express appreciation & ask permission to do it again. Hint: Only wussies do the ‘ask permission’ part.”

The tweet, which has since been deleted (though not before Good Beer Hunting snapped a screenshot of it) was followed by appropriately adverse reactions. Those were followed by non-apologies on Arrogant Bastard’s part. (Yes, it’s all in the name; but you can be an “arrogant bastard” without being an idiot.)

Stone Brewing co-founder and executive chairman Greg Koch apologized for the tweet, saying, “It carried an underlying message referencing sexual consent that was not intended.” He added that, “for the foreseeable future, a female member of the company will be handling all tweets from @ArrogantBastard. Effective immediately.”

Koch. Are you kidding? You can’t just “put a woman on it” and say it’s better. Assigning a “female” to manage Arrogant Bastard’s Twitter account might curb its idiocy in the short term, but doing so is almost more offensive than the tweet itself. This so-called solution completely bypasses the issue at hand: the employee who was previously tweeting. It is not and should not be up to the woman in the room to remedy the poor behavior of your (assumedly male) staff.

What this tweet warrants is not a woman with more work to do. It calls for a systematic reevaluation of your company culture.

Thankfully, the overall response to the tweet was, appropriately, repulsed.

The tweet is a stupid mistake that will soon be forgotten, but seeing a brewer as prominent as Stone post something like this is just a bummer. The International Women’s Collaborative Brew Day is set for March 8, the second annual FemAle Brew Fest is happening March 24 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and the second annual Bière de Femme festival took place last week in Raleigh, North Carolina.

It’s a time when even “a white, fifty-year-old man — precisely the demographic most responsible for creating and maintaining the current [sexist] culture in beer,” is publishing a thorough, four-part series on the blog Beervana, examining the many facets of the beer industry’s “latent sexism” via female perspectives in the industry.

Even slightly misguided attempts, like BrewDog’s Pink IPA “Beer for Girls” (a “satirical protest beer” that has received a good amount of backlash despite its good intentions), show solidarity with gender equality advocates and distaste for the gender wage gap in general. And yes, even glitter beer, despite being kind of disgusting, hints (glints?) at the power of an eye-catcher to make a point.

Here’s the bottom line: The brewing industry, like almost every industry, is male-dominated and, thus, inherently sexist. But the industry overall is making strides, or at least conscious efforts to change.

One brewer’s stupid tweet, or another’s sexist label, are problematic, but neither represent the industry as a whole. It’s time we join in supporting the ones who are showing forms of their own support, instead of being suspicious of their intentions.

BA ‘Power Hour’ Presentation Says Hard Times Ahead, Do as Smaller Brewers Do

In the Brewers Association’s most recent Power Hour, a monthly teleconference on industry topics, Bump Williams, principal of Bump Williams Consulting, shared craft brewing insights based on data from IRI Worldwide. Although one statistic showed optimism — that U.S. craft beer sales increased 6 percent in 2017 — the overall tone of the presentation was bleak.

Williams says there is “an awful lot of room to grow,” pointing at tougher access to market, lack of consumer brand loyalty, and a growing number of new breweries (expected to shoot up to 6,300 this year) as reasons for the gap.

An interesting point the presentation makes is that the little growth craft beer did see in 2017 was not due to its biggest players, or “mainstream craft brands,” but from new, local upstarts, as well as from some regional and national brands. Brewbound reports that Williams also advised brewers to “resist the the urge to distribute their products nationally.”

Yes! Thank you, Williams. Brewers should focus on taproom sales, keep prices for high-end brands high, and sell beer in cans. If a rising tide raises all ships, then bigger craft breweries should stop letting themselves get forgotten by being bystanders of smaller brewers’ nimble moves.

You don’t see Coldplay succeeding by continuing to sing sad ballads about colors and spiderwebs. The band is successful because it sees what’s happening in its industry and constantly adapts to meet consumer demands. Do as the smaller brewers do. You can’t beat them. Join them.

First Wave Craft Returns to Its Roots

Sierra Nevada, like many larger microbreweries, has a problem: People aren’t buying its beer as much anymore.

According to Brewbound, the 38-year-old craft brewery, which produces 1 million barrels of beer per year, saw a 6 percent dip in sales in 2016, followed by a 7 percent decrease in 2017. This especially stings Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, for which dollar sales dropped 8.1 percent in 2017, accounting for a $10 million loss, Brewbound reports. Worse still, Pale Ale is Sierra Nevada’s biggest brand in terms of volume and rate of sale.

Sierra Nevada’s proposed solution is not to create more on-trend brands like its new New England-style IPA, Hazy Little Thing. Instead, it plans to bring people’s attention back to its flagship Pale Ale. It hopes to fill gaps in the marketplace with things like display support (e.g., point-of-sale advertisements) and brand managers to better tell Sierra Nevada’s story.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is a legend in the industry — and that’s exactly why this plan won’t work. As chief commercial officer Joe Whitney told Brewbound, distributors are switching out Sierra Nevada Pale Ale “for a special beer that they think is really exciting, that only stays on tap for a month.”

They’re doing this because it’s available, and it’s what consumers want. The hop head’s thirst for infinitely new beer experiences isn’t going to change by throwing distributors a few POS displays. We’ve already seen how distributors and retailers — not to mention consumers — will abandon decades-long relationships with beers for new releases.

Limited editions trump legacies. It’s not pretty, but it’s the truth.

The post Hop Take: The Beer Industry Is Still Sexist, but All Brewers Are Not Misogynists appeared first on VinePair.

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