The biggest beer stories this year weren’t about mergers and acquisitions (although the sale of Bell to Kirin was pretty bigâ¦ if not entirely unexpectedâ¦) or even necessarily the pandemic. While the fate of beer ultimately depends on the health of its dollars and cents, the real shift to craft beer in 2021 has come through the history of its people.
As BIPOC and LGBTQ + populations continued to demand and gain increased respect and representation, a critical mass of women publicly expressed their pain for the first time since the birth of craft beer in the 1960s and 1970s. Their collective cries increased an important story emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic: Morale matters, so business will not go on as usual.
Counting and payment
On May 11, an executive-level brewer who goes by RatMagnet on Instagram asked a question on the social media platform that would forever change craft beer: “What sexist comments have you experienced? Although the woman, named Brienne Allan, was not the first to go public with her stories of sexism, she is the most influential to date as her query sparked thousands of responses and accusations that led to the #MeToo movement to make more beer. more than three years after rocking Hollywood and the nation for the first time.
After decades of suppressing their suffering for fear of retaliation, international beer workers have finally ended their silence by submitting harrowing stories about everything from unintentional micro-assaults to total rape by bosses, business partners, coworkers, coworkers and bosses.
Along with allegations of gender discrimination, stories of all kinds of abuse in the workplace have surfaced. Founders who refused to promote black, brown, and LGBTQ + employees. Owners who invited their friends to spend hours in their taprooms getting drunk, harassing the waiters and not giving tips. Managers who allowed regulars to mistreat staff on a regular basis.
Names have been named. Jobs have been lost; abandoned positions of power.
The positive impact was immediate, lasting, and deeper than a simple late house cleaning. Perhaps the most important aspect: a relatively widespread recognition that breweries and their subsidiaries are mature businesses that require firm policies to function properly. Not only did business entities around the world quickly adopt codes of conduct, but they began to perceive the critical need to protect themselves and their employees with codified standards of behavior (AKA manuals with written rules) and to contact human resources professionals to develop their business. efforts in an undeniably mature craft beer market that is old enough to fall squarely into middle age.
With the beer business in the United States still largely dominated by Caucasians, many voters of color complain that despite the global racial upheaval of 2020, the industry has not really begun to pay attention to the concerns of marginalized members. of its workforce until white women began to speak out. last spring. A rising tide lifts all the ships. The beacon that brought women’s concerns out of the shadows shines a light on the way forward for fairness for all in the industry.
This is most evident in the acceleration of the growing number of programs designed to increase the opportunity level of BIPOCs in beer created after the George Floyd protests last year. The diversity of their magnitude is refreshing and should serve as an example.
Pittsburgh beer influencers have formed a Beer Diversity Council. The PINk Boots Society has changed its membership conditions. With support from the Beer Kulture Foundation, the Siebel Institute of Technology, the University of South Florida, and the Bronx Brewery have launched scholarships and internships for aspiring brewers of color. And companies and organizations such as City Brew Tours and Women of the Vine and Spirits have started offering brewing scholarships to non-white women.
âThe craft beer industry across the country is still growing, and with growth comes opportunity. This opportunity could be someone of color opening their own brewery or someone taking a job at an existing brewery. Either way, (these scholarships) help provide an opportunity for someone who might not otherwise have one, âsaid Latiesha Cook, President and CEO of Beer Kulture.
Recovery and resilience
Overall, the craft beer sales and production figures available for 2021 add up to a lot of ‘meh’. A little bit of growth, a little bit of decline, and a lot of pandemic WTF.
Poor Bart Watson, whose job as chief economist for the Brewers Association forces him to make sense of COVID-era data that contains no precedent and roughly the same amount of logic. He explained a chart showing the chain’s offsite mid-year numbers in July, writing, âThe narrative I would attribute to this chart is that the first ten weeks were partial pandemic market logic cycling non-pandemic logic. pandemic. This means a strong and continuous transition from onsite sales to offsite sales and high sales. From there you see a weakening of that change and cycling compared to 2020 suddenly compares to the much bigger change that we saw in the first few months of the pandemic. And all this against the backdrop of a time of year when, nationally, seasonality drives sales growth. “
Adding even more erraticism, the numbers themselves are as misleading as their interpretation. The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) Beer Buyers Index for December 2021 breaks December records at a high of 71 out of 100, indicating strong wholesalers buying ahead of a traditionally lean January. The BPI last December was 36 lame.
This does not necessarily indicate a good thing.
NBWA explains, âOngoing supply chain challenges combined with forecast / expected price increases in 2022 are driving higher index readings as distributors and retailers seek to build their inventories as the market approaches. new Year. “
Given all of this confusion, it might be best to leave the numbers aside and over-simplify the year of sales and distribution of competitive beer and products this way: non-alcoholic and non-alcoholic alternatives. low alcohol were on the rise, seltzer – maybe September); logistical problems were on the rise, the supply of aluminum cans was on the decline; labor shortages were increasing, malting barley production was declining; the number of operating breweries in the United States was up (to a record 9,000+), the number of closures was down (significantly from 2020 and even 2019).
Brewers have had huge economic victories from Congress this year, miraculously allowing almost all of them to survive and, in some cases, thrive, with the support of their loyal local communities and a whole lot of ingenuity and skill. flexibility. As the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to shake up the beer business recovery yet again, brewers would do well to remember how they got there today: resilience, more resilience and an endless supply of resilience.