4. Pride, Beer, and a Message for the Other 11 Months

Steering clear of rainbow-washing, embracing Pride, loving NYC beer, and re-entering the world with a saison.

Taste the Rainbow-Themed Beers, But Remember That’s Just the Beginning

Happy Pride Month, friends!

This is not my time to be telling any stories, because those stories wouldn’t be mine to tell. But I do want to share some Pride-related beer happenings, along with a little call to action.

The same, by the way, goes for literally any remembrances or celebrations regarding marginalized groups. Like all these months, Pride is a great time to check back in with what you’re doing and how you’re helping. If you consider yourself or want to be an ally: Are you doing all that listening, reflecting, asking questions (again, not including asking marginalized groups how to help them; they’re not here to do the work for you), word-spreading, accountability-holding, and positive acting? Pride is a glorious celebration of the LGBTQIA+ community. It is, too, a reminder of how far we still have to go until anything resembling long overdue equality is reached, and unfortunately, how far we’ve actually backslid in recent years in this country. The key is, though, to remember to be doing and thinking about all of this for the other 11 months of the year.

I strongly encourage you to read this entire thread from Michael Uhrich at @EconBeer. As we’ve discussed in regard to people of color and womxn, craft beer simply must change or it will die. There is no future except for a diverse, equitable future. And that is necessary and good.

So, before I head into all the fun, rainbow-covered beers that celebrate Pride, I think it’s important that we avoid our own contributions to rainbow-washing. Make sure the Pride-themed beer you’re buying is from a brewery that matches that move with its values and outreach and advocacy in months that are not June, too. Don’t just post rainbow hashtags on Instagram. If you haven’t yet, learn how Pride and the fight for queer equality have been built by people of color, and why and how both of those things have been white-washed for so long to the obvious and inexcusable detriment of BIPOC members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

This New York Times article is a very basic jumping-off point; here’s another on the struggle for Black trans women, specifically. Obviously, watch “Paris is Burning” to learn just how much of today’s culture and language has been appropriated from queer people of color. More 101: the HRC is a great home base for resources, especially when you’re learning how to be an effective ally. Donate to The Okra Project, The Center for Black Equity, The Marsha P. Johnson Institute, The Audre Lorde Project—just to name a very, very few.

There is so much we need to be fighting for. It’s just not possible to rest after June is over. We’re at a point where our country has started banning healthcare for transgender youth, as well as banning transgender minors from sports and protecting archaic discrimination on the grounds of religious freedom.

Celebrating Pride is just as necessary as working and fighting, because we must all push for ever greater queer visibility and inclusion. We just need to be informed and so make informed decisions. Then, we celebrate, embrace, lift up, honor, work, fight, push, support, promote, and basically band together, all June, and all year. So, with that said, let’s look at some of the ways the beer world is reminding us of that this Pride.

The most prominent beer-centric celebration of Pride here in New York is the New York City Brewers Guild’s Pride Passport. Lots of great NYC breweries are releasing beers for Pride this year, some for the first time (in which case, is often because this is their first full year of existence) and others as a regular tradition. You’ve got:

The NYCBG’s Pride Passport is a super fun way to get everyone trying all of these beers, which not only keeps Pride top of mind in the local beer scene, but also translates into money for important causes since these beers donate proceeds from sales to different valuable organizations. Using screengrabs, you’re encouraged to post collages of the beers’ different banners in order to gain points and win a prize for trying all the brews.

Also in New York, Abby Fried has founded the meet-up group Beers with Queers, and its first Pride is a busy one. If you’re here in NYC, check this post for a schedule of events at Big aLICe, Interboro, and more, along with a Queens brewery run.

While it happened already on the first weekend of June, it feels important to note here that Hop Culture hosted the first Queer Beer Festival. Organized in partnership with Sam Adams, it featured beer from queer-owned and/or operated breweries like Dorchester Brewing Co. and Lady Justice Brewing Co., and it joins festivals like Hop Culture’s own Beers With(out) Beards as well as Day Bracey’s Barrel & Flow Fest (formerly Fresh Fest) in spotlighting previously underrepresented groups in beer.

Personally, I had a major fangirl moment when I got to write about Shea Coul-Alé: Royal Edition. This tropical wheat ale is the second annual collaboration between Shea Couleé and Goose Island. $2 from every case sold benefits Brave Space Alliance, “the first Black-led, trans-led LGBTQIA+ Center located on the South Side of Chicago dedicated to creating and providing affirming, culturally competent, for-us by-us resources, programming, and services for LGBTQIA+ individuals.” Last year, Shea Coul-Alé was only available in Chicago; this year, it’s also available in New York, Philly, and St. Louis. I. Love. Shea. So. Much.

And then there are the beers that, yes, you can drink even when it’s not June that help push forward queer visibility and inclusion—shocking, I know! If you haven’t checked out Gay Beer yet, well, right off the bat, you’re in for glorious imagery and marketing campaigns that actually prioritize making members of the LGBTQIA+ community feel truly seen and heard. I’ve been lucky enough to interview founders Jason Pazmino and Jon Moore a couple of times, and they’re passionate about making Gay Beer, a crushable golden lager, a welcoming and accessible drink for the entire community, any time, anywhere—Gay Beer is not niche nor novelty.

Plus, Sarah Hallonquist and Loretta Chung, founders of Dyke Beer, are raising awareness for their mission to save, honor, and celebrate LGBTQIA+ spaces via beer. The first Dyke Beer was a saison made in collaboration with Wild East Brewing; they’ve just released Tall Girl Gose with Greenpoint Beer & Ale. Just this morning, Hannah Kiem’s latest Brews with Broads episode dropped with Sarah talking all about Dyke Beer, Dyke Bar Takeover, and the importance of queer spaces and community.

I’d love to know what Pride beers and beer-related events are happening in your neck of the woods—comment, email, DM, carrier-pigeon me! And again, Happy Pride!

Beer Tarot!

I pulled the Six of Wands. Let’s discuss.

The suit of fire, wands pertains to all things energy—our intuition, communication, creativity, and travel (which could mean literally traveling or traveling down a certain path or toward a certain goal). The Six of Wands, in particular, represents victory. So, yay, good job, you! You’re victorious about something. It’s safe to assume you may be vaccinated by now, or at least that’s within reach. That feels like a win, right?

Truly, that feels like where the Six of Wands is at. It captures this feeling of hard-won triumph: you’ve been busting your ass working and punching your way through some serious obstacles, and now, you’re seeing the results of your efforts. You’re feeling some level of success. There’s new life and/or new opportunity on the horizon. Which, even though we’re certainly not through with worrying about new variants and we’re really only getting started in our lives as mask wearers, all feels very spring/summer 2021, doesn’t it? Six of Wands can even specifically signal upcoming weddings and parties, and I think many of us have realized that next year is going to be the busiest wedding season ever.

What does that mean for a beer? I think it’s time to drink anything celebratory, really, which definitely cues a reach into that cellar where your prized bottles are. I think it also feels very saison-ish, no? The darkness of winter has lifted and it’s time to toast the sunshine with something fresh and always good. I have just the one for you, too, if you’re in NYC: Does This Feeling Come Again? from Endless Life. Ooh, what a good question for the Six of Wands and this summer. Re-entering the world after a year like what we’ve had, balancing uncertainty and trauma with hope, relief, and excitement? That seems like a pretty once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon (I mean, hopefully, I guess?). And this beer is a special way to mark it.

This Week’s Boozy Reading Rec

This piece by Jaya Saxena for Eater, “Beer Is So Gay,” is great and profiles three badass brewers/collaborators I love and who you love, too, or at least you will. Saxena talks to Jon Moore and Jason Pazmino of Gay Beer, Sarah Hallonquist and Loretta Chung of Dyke Beer, and Lily Waite of Queer Brewing. There’s insightful talk on making beer that truly represents and welcomes the queer community, as well as on rainbow and pink-washing, and it's all a terrific read that will have you for sure seeking out these brews.

Until next week, here’s moody Darby at BierWax with Stucci Brothers, a New England-style DIPA from Brix City and Twin Elephant.