Tapping Into a Safer Beer Industry

Brave Noise, an international collaboration of bars, breweries, and homebrewers, is working to build a safe and equitable beer industry. Originally set to conclude at the end of last year, Co-Founders Brienne Allan and Ash Eliot recently announced their decision to continue the initiative’s work through 2022.

Launched in 2021, the collaboration helps raise awareness of the challenges that marginalized members of the craft beer industry face. They also help community members access resources and trainings with the goal of creating safer, more inclusive workplaces. After their first few months of operation, their efforts earned them the title of Brewbound’s Cause of the Year.

“It’s not just about the beer. It’s about the mission. It’s about taking action –– and that’s what we really want people to understand,” Eliot tells Food Tank. By joining the collaborative, beer industry leaders are making long-term commitments to change.

In the beginning of 2022, Allan and Eliot realized they needed to continue the collaboration’s work and announced that it will continue for another full calendar year.

With a new emergency fund, they hope to support underrepresented voices in the sector. Funds will provide necessary resources and financial aid to beer industry workers trying to escape toxic workplace environments. They also have in the works a grant for Black female entrepreneurs.

Inspiration for the collaboration came after Allan posed a question to her Instagram followers: “Have you ever experienced sexism in the beer industry?”

Allan received thousands of responses. Women, BIPOC, and LGBTQIA+ industry workers reached out with stories of discrimination, harassment, sexual assault, and racism, leading Allan and Eliot to launch Brave Noise.

To sign up, breweries follow a four-step process in which they publish their Code of Conduct and donate to a relevant charity or non-profit organization. Breweries then receive a label and social media graphics to give their products the Brave Noise seal. The website also shares resources including harassment trainings, legal help, diversity trainings, wellness resources, and #NotMe, a free and anonymous reporting app.

“We need all beer-related businesses to be transparent with their policies and code of conduct. Show your values. What are you doing to create a safe and supportive environment?” Allan says.

Since its launch, more than 200 breweries across the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and New Zealand and more than 400 homebrewers have joined the collaboration. According to Allan, beer drinkers can also play an important role in holding companies accountable through purchases. “Consumers have so much power in all this. They have the option to invest in companies that are providing safe spaces and supportive environments,” she says.

Allan and Eliot believe that a lack of transparency and representation are two issues feeding into the beer industry’s toxic workplace environments. According to a benchmark survey performed by the Brewers Association, 78 percent of craft brewery owners are men and 88 percent are white.

“The only way to move forward and to create real change,” Allan tells Food Tank,” is by bringing in more women, non-binary, BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ into leadership and decision-making roles.”

In the coming year, the collaborative plans to branch into other sectors of the alcohol industry. Two cideries and a kombucha company have joined the group, and Eliot hopes to see more sign on soon. “We want as many alcohol related businesses as possible,” she says.

To add to their efforts, Brave Noise is conducting direct outreach to companies and hopes to collaborate with more nonprofits. In May, they will participate in a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conference and continue to host their own events with experts in human resource management and diversity.

“Leaders in the industry are still dismissing what’s going on…so called “waiting for it to pass.” The beer industry has never had a moment like this,” Alan tells Food Tank. “And it won’t pass so every beer-related business needs to do their part, get educated and make changes now.”

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Photo courtesy of Amie Johnson, Unsplash

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