In October of 2021, the Brewers Association ran an updated demographic audit of brewery ownership. While disappointing, the findings were as expected:
|Race/Ethnicity||Percentage of Owners|
|White (non hispanic)||93.5%|
|Black (non hispanic)||0.4%|
|Hispanic, Latina -o, or of Spanish Origin||2.2%|
|American Indian or Alaska Native||0.4%|
|Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander||0.0%|
|Prefer not to answer||1.1%|
It comes as no surprise that a historically white-dominated industry such as craft beer is lacking a diverse ownership base. However, current events and explosive exposés in the past few years have even further exemplified the importance of diversity within the industry.
We at Rogue want to use our platform to help amplify these voices that have been underrepresented for too long. In this series, we will be highlighting people around the country working to diversify the craft beer and spirits industry.
Advice from Marcus Bakersville
For the first post in this series, we spoke with Marcus Bakersville – founder of Weathered Souls Brewing, the man behind the ‘Black is Beautiful’ collaborative beer initiative, and one of the few Black brewery owners – to get his take on what has enabled the lack of diversity in craft beer and develop actionable steps the industry and consumers alike can take to bridge the gap.
According to Marcus, there are many reasons for the lack of diversity in the craft brewing industry, but he highlighted two main reasons for us.
Financial – The equipment and startup costs to get into craft brewing are a substantial barrier to entry and historically, minorities were unable to secure the necessary funding. This financial strain has left a generational diversity void in the industry.
Marketing – Craft beer is a high-end retail item and has not been marketed to the black community. Instead, they were marketed products such as malt liquor and Hennessey, which created the sentiment that craft beer isn’t for minorities.
In honor of Juneteenth, we are sharing three of Marcus’s actionable steps that we can all take to increase diversity within our industry.
Help minorities get into positions of power
Change happens when leadership is diverse. We need more black people in decision making positions: more brewmasters, more production managers, more taproom managers and more black owned breweries. This can only be accomplished by creating additional opportunities for minorities and hiring more BIPOC individuals, in turn fostering an environment that encourages diversity, equity and inclusion.
Shop at diverse businesses
Consumers can help by supporting minority-owned breweries and those that advocate for diversity and inclusion. Not sure where to start? Thrillist created a great list of Black-Owned breweries throughout the country. We’ll also be sharing the stories of our industry friends throughout the course of this blog series, so stay tuned!
Industry education is vital to the start of a successful brewery. To help increase educational opportunities, Marcus launched a mentorship program and incubator in Charlotte, NC for women and BIPOC brewers to help bridge the gap and introduce more minorities to brewing. Whether offering a brewing 101 course, shadow opportunities or scholarships, it is vital that industry leaders find opportunities to educate others on our unique trade.
We want thank Marcus for chatting with us and sharing his story. Stay tuned for the next installment of our Industry Voices blog series with Xicha Brewing!