Beer has a troubled history when it comes to accepting and representing women. Sexist labels and ads made by men to sell beer to men were so pervasive for so long that the situation demanded a 2017 intervention from the Brewer’s Association. But the inherent sexism and misogyny of an industry that has historically been dominated by male voices (particularly white male voices) has gone beyond the obvious objectification of the female form and bled into how women are regarded when they step into roles as writers, influencers, brewers, and owners in the beer space. This became painfully obvious during a recent episode of the Brewbound podcast.
A little back story: On July 8th, Uproxx published a list of beer influencers on Instagram that we believe are worth following. Our list was made of stone-cold experts — brewers, writers, photographers, Cicerones, and genuine beer lovers. It also reflected our own desires for increased visibility of diversity in beer and was made up of seven women and three men (or male-based collectives). On July 11th, the Brewbound Podcast, a beer industry-focused pod from BevNET, opened with banter between the hosts, challenging the credentials of the women we’d featured.
It did not land well. The duo dismissed the handles One Hoppy Lady, Big World Small Girl, Beer Bitty, and Is Beer A Carb specifically as being not worth following, because, “it’s all chicks who basically take photos of themselves in like low-cut tops with beer.”
Clearly, the two Brewbound hosts hadn’t read why we chose those accounts for a follow — they are run by a certified Cicerone, an industry beer writer, a food and beer pairing expert, and a nationally-lauded brewer, respectively. Each one is distinctly qualified, while also putting time into their photos because Instagram is, quite obviously, an aesthetic-driven platform.
About a week after the podcast aired, beer lover and writer Justine Daroci (@literally_justine) heard the episode and sounded the alarm — posting a transcription of the podcast in her Instagram story and making sure the beer influencers mentioned knew what was being said about them by one of the industry’s largest outlets. The story blew up as the female beer influencers featured in our original article rallied together and issued their own responses to the episode (which, ironically was focused on “diversity and inclusion in the beer industry”).
The backlash worked. On July 22nd, BevNET issued an apology, pulled the opening banter from the podcast, and put the show on hiatus. Co-host Justin Kendall went on an apology tour and personally reached out to those involved (including me and Uproxx’s Life Editor, Steve Bramucci). Co-host Chris Furnari was let go. The whole story caught the attention of the online beer community and Good Beer Hunting — one of the industry’s largest and most widely-respected outlets — covered it in a recent podcast episode.
When the dust cleared, the story had come to define the beer zeitgeist of Summer ’19 and started a much-needed conversation about how men perceive and treat women in the beer industry. To keep that dialogue moving, we reached out to a few of the influencers, brewers, writers, and Cicerones from our original post to discuss the matter further. Bella (One Hoppy Lady), Caitlin (Big World Small Girl), Megan Stone (Is Beer A Carb), Melis (The Girl With Beer), Ray (Craftbeeray), and Emilie (La petite Biere) were all eager to share their experiences working in beer and how they believe women are received, treated, and viewed.
The endgame here is simple: Hopefully, by continuing this discussion, we can help make the beer industry a more welcoming place for everyone.