River Water

A Cliff Notes response to the now-infamous Good Beer Hunting article, “I Know What Boyz Like”

On January 2, Good Beer Hunting posted an article called “I Know What Boyz Like”. By that evening, brewers and brewery owners were defending themselves on Twitter, Good Beer Hunting was engaged in a long and public argument with Libby Crider, co-owner of 2nd Shift Brewing, and beer drinkers and industry pros have been sharing their thoughts, uh… freely. Here are my two cents:

The article discusses Instagram accounts, including ones by Perennial Artisan Ales and 2nd Shift Brewing, that show off a “boys club” nature in the beer industry. I have not seen the @perennialfuckboyz account, as it is has been deleted or changed its name – but I have seen the posts by @2ndshiftsexytime. They’re in poor taste. I don’t think they poke fun or satirize the sexism of the industry.

However, the three images (one has been deleted and replaced with an apology) posted by the account do not cast a shadow over 2nd Shift’s actual practices of promoting women in the beer industry and fostering an environment that is welcoming to women.

2nd Shift is co-owned by a woman. The bar is managed by a woman. Many of the bartenders are women. Okay, you can say that having women at the helm doesn’t mean the brewery does what’s good for women overall.

But 2nd Shift is consistently one of the only breweries where I see groups of women drinking together. In many breweries and beer bars, I am often the only woman there at all. That is never true at 2nd Shift. It is also one of the only breweries or bars where I can go without being perved on by a 40-year-old with a superiority complex. Or asked whose girlfriend I am at a beer release. Or interrupted repeatedly when I’m reading or studying. Or rudely quizzed about my beer knowledge.

Last year, 2nd Shift hosted a group of St. Louis’ women brewers in creating NaSTLy, a sour brown ale served in a can designed by a woman and a 2nd Shift employee. They were the first to serve the beer. They promoted it, and they promote the work of women. They host pop-up markets where largely women-owned businesses have a chance to access 2nd Shift’s customers. If anything, 2nd Shift is doing more for women than almost any other brewery in St. Louis.

Do I like the Instagram photos? No. Do I think that means 2nd Shift is making the beer world inhospitable to women? Absolutely not.

Now, here’s what bothered me about most of the responses I saw. There were many, many defenses of our St. Louis breweries and their Instagram accounts, and many valid points about their friendliness to women. But I didn’t see any responses to some very valid points about the way breweries and distributors ignore minorities. There are social and economic barriers to craft beer that are not addressed by breweries even as they move into “up and coming” neighborhoods. There is very little racial diversity among brewers and brewery staff.

And, as the article points out, this will impact breweries sooner than later. The country will become more diverse (less white). And if breweries only cater to the people already drinking their beer, they will lose out. They will lose business.

More diversity in craft brewing can only mean more, and better, craft beer to choose from. The only reason to resist it is stubbornness. But diversity doesn’t happen simply by not resisting. It has to be intentional, thoughtful, and ethical. I don’t have the answers for creating a more equitable world of beer. I hope we can find them through collaboration and a critical look at the way breweries do business.

Maybe there were few responses to this portion of the article because people agree with it. I hope that’s true, and I hope it has fostered some introspection in the industry – about beer making, distribution, sales, and hiring.

“I Know What Boyz Like” was an interesting article that raised some important points. It also glossed over important facts to focus on its own narrow perspective. It failed in critical research. It has doubled down on this failure on social media. I enjoyed reading it. I have enjoyed responding to it. I have been irritated and I have nodded in agreement. At the very least, Good Beer Hunting have garnered themselves plenty of attention.