69. NoBoDy WaNtS tO wOrK aNyMoRe (But Make It Gendered)
Breweries asking us why they just can't get women to apply for brewing jobs are doing it wrong (obv); plus finally a drinks show(!); and tarot for giving and receiving with grace.
Brewery Would Like You to Know It’s Not THEIR Fault They Don’t Have Women in the Brewhouse
This Monday, a brewery [NOTE: I’m not naming them because the post has since been deleted, and, as of right now, I have no way of knowing if that means more ignoring the problem or that they’re actually doing some work, and I don’t want to do any counterproductive naming and shaming in the meantime as I hope the latter is the case. I still feel it’s quite relevant to discuss this post as I think it’s the sentiment of too many breweries, even if they don’t baldly express as much on social media.] asked on its Instagram page, “Why is it so hard to get women to apply for Brewing (sic) jobs?”
Ha. Hahaha. Hahahahahahaha…ha…hahahaha…HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAGGHHHHHKILLME.
Can you imagine sitting around in your brewery-owner chair pondering this, scratching your head and thinking, “Better fire up the ol’ Instagram-dot-com and ask the people, because I am stumped—where are all the females?” I mean, can you imagine?
In order to *attempt* to prevent my head from exploding, I’m going to unpack this beat by beat.
Let’s be honest, this is a form—albeit an even more maddening one—of the “nobody wants to work anymore.” Perhaps you read The Washington Post’s recent reason to scream toward the sky—or perhaps you, like me, read the headline and rolled your eyes too far back into your head to be able to see anything else on the computer screen— “U.S. Workers Have Gotten Way Less Productive. No One Knows Why.” No one knows why? No one knows why? NO ONE KNOWS WHY? What the fuck are we doing here? Tweeting on His High Lord Priest Dictator Alien King Elon Musk’s Twitter about the many, many clear and valid problems facing workers in this country for our goddamned health? Journalists, editors, and most importantly, hiring managers, I beg you: read a thing! Hiring managers and company owners have got to talk to one other human being who doesn’t belong to their classist, racist, misogynist country club, where
I imagine a bunch of Republican douche-canoes stand around complaining about how people want to be compensated for overtime and how egregiously entitled that is and why can’t it be like the good old days and what do these lowly worker ants even want from them?
The divide between business owners’ golden parachute lifestyle and the absolute punishment that is being an employee in the United States—being expected to give every ounce of time, energy, and fucks to your workplace because it’s a “family” (barf) even though last time you checked, “family” probs wouldn’t pay you less because you’re not a white man, or only give you two weeks of maternity leave, or expect you to be on call 24/7, or time your bathroom breaks, or sing you their favorite cover version of “boys will be boys” if you’re sexually harassed, etc.—is at a crisis level. Even a mass movement toward unionization across industries isn’t cluing employers in, it seems, to the fact that people are finally standing up for their urgent needs. People are asking for literally just what is fair in return for their time, labor, talent, skill, dedication—how rude! So, even a notoriously not-billion-dollar-making operation like a brewery asking why they’re having trouble hiring in the year 2022 is a giant “OOF.”
Then, you can zero in further to how dire the need for better treatment is, blanket-statement-style, in craft beer. Brewers, arguably, uh, the most important and necessary job in creating beer (in the brewhouse, at least, so setting the folks along different stages of the supply chain aside for the moment), and with a back-breaking workload plus a demand for sharp scientific knowledge and plentiful creativity, are criminally underpaid. And despite years of this being discussed, that doesn’t seem to be changing.From '11-'21, avg weekly wages for alcohol industry pros has stayed below total growth rates for all private employers (stats tracked by ) Average weekly wage change, '11-'21 All private: +42.2% Wineries: +26.9% Distilleries: -10.7% Production breweries: -28.4%
ZipRecruiter places the national average brewer salary at $39,837; $19/hour. People have tweeted and also verbalized irl (because that still happens, too) that brewers’ salaries are such that they can barely afford to buy the goddamned thing they make. I guess that’s not a wild reality when you think about industries like auto and fashion, in terms of luxury brands, at least, but beer, a liquid in a bottle, can or glass—the people responsible for creating that liquid should make enough to always be able to comfortably afford it (as well as, duh, much more importantly, things like healthcare). We have to address the squeeze on craft beer now, from rising supply costs to tough competition, but then, this is one of the many reasons I mentioned a few issues back that maybe it wouldn’t be so terrible for this country’s number of craft breweries to shrink. If you can’t afford to compensate your people fairly, then perhaps it’s time to pack it in. If there are other places you can cut costs, fantastic, but it should not and cannot be what you pay the people who make it possible in the first place for you to have a brewery.
Then, you can zero in yet again to concentrate on how incredibly difficult it is to work in craft beer when you are anything but a straight white man. I don’t think I need to dive too deep into specifics here as you can refer to literally the entirety of this newsletter so far. Women, people of color, queer people, they are not welcomed into craft beer in the first place. They’re not made to feel safe, they’re not given access. If they even make it to the point of working in the industry, completely on their own accord and thanks to their own passion and determination, it’s much more common than not for it to be made clear to them that they do not matter as much as the dude(s) running the place and/or the dudes worshiping them for that. They’re disposable. They should shut up and put up with unsafe conditions, harassment, inequities, discrimination, even abuse. They don’t get paid as much—like, even less than the aforementioned insufficient amount. They are not celebrated or taken seriously.
Understand I am not saying this is every single brewery; I know that of course, thankfully, there are many breweries who defy this, both ones that are themselves owned by underrepresented people and not. But we know that’s sadly just not the case overall in craft beer. Against this background, against this background since Brienne Allan’s Instagram question sparked a revolution, against this background where groups like Punks With Purpose are trying to get people to pay fucking attention to the way breweries treat employees, especially non-cishet white guy employees…this is the current state in which a brewery would ask why women don’t seem to want to apply for brewing jobs?!
Imagine if when Garrett Oliver reflected upon the fact that he had not seen a Black person apply for a brewing role in his 30-year career at Brooklyn Brewery, he asked, “Why is it so hard to get Black people to apply for brewing jobs?” on Instagram. This feels blasphemous to even propose for the sake of point-making, and granted, it’s not a direct correlation because the person who asked this on the brewery’s Instagram does not, based on the comments, seem to be a woman (if you know I’m wrong, let me know, I could be!). But what I’m getting at is that Oliver recognized this problem and got to work, namely establishing the Michael James Jackson Foundation for Brewing & Distilling. Every time we hear about another impactful initiative or organization aimed at bettering inclusivity, diversity, and equity, it is almost always—not always, but almost always—the sole work of underrepresented people. Underrepresented people who have been so because of how dominant the role of straight white men has been in shaping this industry. And yet those industry-shapers do squat in the way of any necessary re-shaping, even when they can no longer deny they know how badly craft beer has failed at inclusivity. (Again, there are exceptions! But they should in fact be the rule, not the exception.)
I am sure that someone performatively asking why it’s so hard to get women to apply to brewing jobs on social media thinks he is showing himself to be an ally, someone who, gosh, is trying to be inclusive, but it’s not his fault women just aren’t showing up to work! The solutions to this are so simple they’re able to be fired off in quick, concise comments, like, have you sent one email to your local Pink Boots Society chapter? It probably wouldn’t have taken much longer than writing this tone-deaf post. But then, you wouldn’t have gotten to enjoy the back-patting of other dudes in the comments, who go so far as to suggest that this isn’t a problem or something to worry about, as men are the ones drinking beer so it figures they’d be the ones to make it!
I hate the phrase “do better” because it’s too often wielded by people on, let’s say, the more problematic side of the argument, but sometimes it is in fact just the most effective command. Do fucking better. If you look around your brewhouse and see a diversity problem, that is something you’re doing, and not the fault of all the women and people of color not lining up to make your business look better on Instagram. What are you doing to make your brewery inclusive, welcoming, and safe? Are you public and open about your code of conduct, and is your code of conduct written with meaning and intention? Are you working with good causes? Are you partnering with local organizations to build diversity from the ground up at your business? There are about a million things you can do instead of asking the question on Instagram and, tale as old as time, put the onus on the people being excluded and discriminated against.
Who’s Watching “Drink Masters”?
I am! And I’m cautiously excited about it. I like to keep track of drinks television here since discussing the painful lack of it and some possible reasons why that is. I feel a bit encouraged by “Drink Masters,” that it just might be a step in the right direction when it comes to prying America’s puritanical attitude toward alcohol from its cold, dead hands. After watching a few episodes so far, I think for the average viewer, this show could really demonstrate just how much artistry and skill goes into a drink. It opens up the world of mixology as an art form, a practice, a community, an industry, and not just how you get drunk. Even if you’re already a cocktail geek, I think there’s lots to learn and appreciate here, from spotlighting different spirits to showcasing innovative techniques (even if they can kill you?). I think there’s good diversity here, like to a level that’s been too rare in mainstream TV, and that facilitates good storytelling and conversation about different palates and experiences and ingredients—again, something that’s hard to find and could open up a lot of minds!
This week, I pulled the Six of Pentacles.
Pentacles speaks to money, property, and achievement; the Six of Pentacles deals specifically with sharing, giving, generosity, and charity. You can tell because of that rich asshat on the card, condescendingly sprinkling coins into the hands of the two people he’s no doubt actively participating in keeping poor. But perhaps that’s just an American read!
This card may come up to signal you are either in a position to give or to receive—in general, it represents a sort of harmony and balance in terms of those two actions. Essentially, perhaps you are in a comfortable financial state right now, and ready to contribute to one or more causes. The Six of Pentacles is here to nudge you into doing some research in order to decide which causes are indeed most important to you so you can get going. Or, maybe you’re more in a place right now where you have time to share, in terms of volunteering, mentoring, advocating, helping a friend or making sure to be there for them even more as they go through a difficult time.
Or, you might find yourself in a situation where you are the one who needs a loan from someone, or some extra time. Just as you would not hesitate to give, this card would like to remind you to not let pride or other concerns get in the way here. We are all human and we all help when we can (ideally) and we all need help ourselves at times. This is where that harmony comes in: don’t look at needing help as an isolated incident, one that signals you’ve failed in some way. It’s all part of the entire circle of life here, the balance of giving and receiving and giving and receiving and so on and so forth. Receive with grace now and give with grace when you are again in the position to be able to do so. If you need help, don’t worry about asking for it, because you can only be the best version of yourself when you have what you need.
Everything about this tarot card, I think, points to Beer Kulture. Because whether you have money to share or not so much but you do have time, you can make a meaningful difference in the beverage industry by working with this vital organization. Donate, be a mentor, spread the word in order to welcome more people into this community.
This Week’s Boozy Media Rec
I was so very excited to see that Advanced Cicerone, National BJCP judge, podcaster, educator, and general beer person extraordinaire Jen Blair was launching a newsletter. I had a feeling it would be something much needed in the beer newsletter field, and that inclination was correct. The first issue of Under the Jenfluence taught me something in terms of both society and tasting in beer, and I’m not surprised at all but I am invigorated and intrigued, and very much looking forward to this newsletter hitting my inbox on the reg. I didn’t know about the Overton window, and Jen writes beautifully about how this applies to the current state of things in the beer industry. And you’ve got to read about what a velvet cape has to do with honing in on the sensory experience of astringency—I swear, I happened to be taking a sip of coffee as I read it, and thought, omigod, I GET THIS.
Ex-BEER-ience of the Week
I visited friends in Washington D.C. this weekend, so overall, it was a great two-and-a-half days of exploring some of the D.C. beer scene. One thing I have to note, because you simply can’t make this shit up, is that the very week I called out Grand Delancey for grossly gushing over Shaun Hill and having a big shebang for Hill Farmstead, I visited ChurchKey in D.C. and did some gushing of my own because I truly, somehow, embarrassingly had no idea it was owned by the same people. This is major cringe, like, huge head-slap moment. I’m really baffled as to how I missed this piece of information, and I’m feeling pretty mad at myself, tbh! I thought I was innocently checking off a beer-bar-bucket-list item and, welp, I guess nothing is that simple anymore. So, I truly apologize for such an asinine error. This is obviously very noted for the future.
Anyway, I did visit some very good breweries. Red Bear was a great crowd, great vibe (Halloween drag show and all), great food—and, I had a carrot ginger saison that blew me away, plus an excellent West Coast IPA called Lightweight Flannel. Atlas Brew Works also had a super enjoyable WCIPA, as well as a solid festbier, and was a hang I’d definitely recommend.
Until next week, here’s Darb at Red Bear.