Is there a lack of participation or a lack of representation of those people in the narrative of beer?
I think a little bit of both is happening. At CBC, there was a moment where it was kind of after I was done with the seminar, during the Q&A, a young woman who stood up and said she’d been the manager of a taproom for three years -- she’s a woman of color -- and she’s talking about instances where the customer had a question or a vendor was delivering something that immediately they’d be looking for someone else to talk to, thinking, "Who’s in charge? Clearly not you." ... While this person was talking, there are people all over the crowd nodding like "Yep, yep, right. I’m having similar experiences." There’s still just some unconscious bias operating: "Who is expert in this community? Who is most legitimate?"
But I do also think there is an exposure opportunity here too. I did a little bit of academic writing a couple years back about why people of color particularly African-Americans may have a little bit of aversion to beer in general. Because in a lot of ways, 40 ounces have been stigmatized, and so you see a lot of African-Americans turn to premium liquor rather than craft beer. The cool thing is there’s just a lot of lifestyle brands and advocacy groups operating around the fringes of craft beer right specifically taking up the challenge of just introducing beer to communities who haven’t been in it. One of the things I’d love to do in this role is reach out to some of those groups and see if there’s opportunities to connect them to breweries in their areas, hear their voices, think about their ideas.