Sep 13, 2021 - Business
The craft beer industry confronts its demons
A sign for the Craft Brewers Conference outside the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. Photo courtesy of the Brewers Association
A sign for the Craft Brewers Conference outside the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. Photo courtesy of the Brewers Association

The craft beer community reunited in Denver this weekend for the first time since before the pandemic to confront its demons.

What they're saying: In the opening address, Bob Pease, CEO of the Boulder-based Brewers Association, the industry's leading trade group, called for an "awakening."

  • "This scourge of discrimination and inequity has festered and held us back," he told attendees at the Craft Brewers Conference, which concluded Sunday.
  • "We are at an inflection point," added Virginia Morrison, the association's co-chair for diversity.

Why it matters: In the past 18 months, the beer industry struggled to address racism in its ranks, and an outpouring of stories emerged from women about sexism, harassment and assault.

  • Flashback: The three female owners of Lady Justice Brewing in Aurora took their story to a national platform this summer, and at least one Colorado brewery owner publicly apologized for its workplace culture.

Between the lines: The conference is the largest industry-only gathering in the nation and typically is focused on education seminars and a trade show.

This year, the event had a different feel, with an entire track of meetings about workplace culture, ranging from diversity and inclusion to mental health.

  • The conference included trainings from the National Conflict Resolution Center and promoted the #NotMe app to report misconduct and discrimination.

The bottom line: "We've been very reactive," Brewers Association's diversity ambassador Nikol Jackson-Beckham told John at the conference. "It's time to connect the dots."

avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Denver.

More Denver stories

No stories could be found

Denverpostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Denver.