Once you look beyond what's in the glass, possibly the biggest discussion is the craft beer world is diversity. The stereotype of the bearded white brewer can be traced back to the earliest days of the movement four decades ago when trailblazers like the bearded Ken Grossman made seminal beers like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. But more recently, craft beer has actively been working to address this issue, and now, for the first time, the trade group for independent breweries, the Brewers Association (BA), has released a report on brewery employee diversity data.
At this point, the numbers aren't far off from confirming what we already suspect. As the BA-run website CraftBeer.com reports, according to breweries that answered these optional diversity data questions for the BA, only about 7.5 percent of brewers are women. The number of female staff jumps to 37 percent for women in "non-production, non-service" roles (like sales and marketing). The only area where women reach a majority is as brewery "service" staff — though at just 53 percent, it's pretty balanced. Furthermore, of the 54 percent of breweries that only had a single owner, 96 percent of those owners were male.
Breweries were also asked about ethnicity, and once again, the numbers skew as expected. A whopping 88 percent of brewery owners in the survey are white. That trend continues in non-brewing production roles: Only 7 percent of this staff is Hispanic; only 3.5 percent is black.
That said, actively encouraging diversity is relatively new for the BA. (Whether they could have started sooner is a different topic of discussion.) It was only in April of last year that the trade group created a Diversity Committee and added its first Diversity Ambassador, J. Nikol Jackson-Beckham. And as the BA's chief economist Bart Watson writes, "The simplest reason for benchmarking this data is that you can't measure future change unless you know where you are to begin with." To put it another way, the (admittedly low) bar for progress in the beer world has now officially been set.
But Julia Herz — craft beer program director at the Brewers Association, publisher of CraftBeer.com, and a woman — was willing to take things a step further in her analysis, posted to the BA's website. "Anyone scanning [this data] will conclude there is work to be done, and we as a craft beer community can do better," she wrote. After listing the progress she believes has already been made since 2017, Herz later adds, "It is my hope that every craft brewery will invest, embrace, and endeavor to improve their diversity and inclusion practices." Her post title even states, "Craft Breweries Have Room and Resources for Improvement." Though this first round of data might not be as glowing as the craft beer community would like, consider it one of those resources.