The craft beer industry is experiencing its own #MeToo movement, with thousands of allegations pouring out against brewers, owners, and other industry professionals across the world. Accounts of toxic workplace culture, discrimination, harassment, and assault have led to a number of high-profile departures, even locally. Modern Times Beer CEO Jacob McKean stepped down last month from his role at the brewery that he co founded back in 2013.
Despite the shockwaves reverberating in San Diego and beyond, several trade organizations are now stepping up to address the pervasive sexism that’s plagued the hospitality segment for too long. The San Diego Brewers Guild recently formed a committee to develop a Code of Conduct for members, which will introduce new bylaws and outline repercussions—up to and including revoking membership—for breweries found in noncompliance. The San Diego chapter of the Pink Boots Society, a global organization promoting professional education for women and non-binary people working in the alcohol industry, is hosting an open forum this month to identify and implement actionable steps to address inequality in craft beer.
Other local companies are also launching their own short- and long-term initiatives in the wake of the revelations. Meadiocrity Mead in San Marcos recently partnered with Alabaster Jar Project, a local anti-sex trafficking organization that helps victims through rehabilitation, housing, and job opportunities. Meadiocrity co-founder Mark Oberle says he’d been looking for ways to get involved with his local community, and was inspired by the sense of “poetic justice” that comes with leveraging an alcohol business to help those who may have been hurt by substance abuse in the past.
“There’s something really redeeming that my wife and I find about using the alcohol industry to actually do good in the community, especially in exactly the same areas where it’s been previously a tool of pain,” he says.
San Diego Beer News reported that Kearny Mesa-based Kilowatt Brewing will host a fundraising brew day in June to signal solidarity as well as donate all proceeds to the San Diego Pink Boots Society, and Linda Vista’s Home Brew Mart recently hosted a brew day to craft a Vienna Lager called Respect.
“We wanted to make something light and sessionable, something you’d want to order more of. We want more respect,” explains Amy Spackman, Home Brew Mart employee and co-chapter leader of the San Diego Pink Boots Society.
Respect will be available on-site at Home Brew Mart’s adjacent Ballast Point taproom later this month, and Home Brew Mart pledged to make a donation to a local group to help address the issue of sexual violence. But Jim Johnson, general manager of Home Brew Mart, plans on keeping the momentum going for long-term change.
“We’re not trying to rush the brew,” says Johnson. “We’re trying to keep the conversation going.”
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