Homebrew. Diversity. – a summary of Renée Navarro’s presentation

At our October 2018 meeting, Renée Navarro (@beer_diversity, beer-diversity.com) presented to our group on diversity in brewing.

Renée has almost a decade of experience in the beer industry. She currently works as a beer consultant and as a public speaker, with her speaking engagements focusing on diversity in the beer industry. Renée has also done some homebrewing in the past!

As only 10-15% of our membership makes it out to each monthly meeting, and with increasing diversity in homebrewing as one of our primary objectives, I thought it was worth doing a special blog post summarizing what was an excellent presentation by Renée.

Renée started her presentation with a brief history of brewing. In Mesopotamia, where brewing is thought to originate, brewing was something that was done in home or community, and almost entirely by women. It was not until a few thousand years later with commercialization and industrialization when we see men taking over beer production. There truly is nothing inherently gendered about beer production or consumption, but here we are…

Homebrewing presents a special opportunity. Many commercial brewers today had their start with homebrewing. To some extent, the make up of brewing industry will be a reflection of the make up of our own homebrewing hobby. Efforts to increase diversity in our own hobby absolutely have potential to influence change in the brewing industry.

The “how” of this was the focus of Renée’s talk.

Renée made it simple for us: as individuals we need to make the point of sharing our hobby with those that are underrepresented in brewing. As a starting point, offer homebrew samples to friends and family who may not usually give beer a second thought – who may not even be “into beer”. While we may often feel self conscious of the beer we make, and gravitate towards sharing our creations exclusively with individuals we know enjoy beer – step outside that. There’s the rewarding possibility that your homebrew is the beer that gets somebody into craft beer, or even spurs their interest in making their own beer. At minimum you offer a valuable counterpoint to the idea that all beer is the same, or that all beer is for those who like specific flavours.

If you have found somebody that shows interest in making their own beer, encourage them! Invite them to stop by for a future brew and take every opportunity to share your brewing knowledge and passion.

As a club we must continue to prioritize education and outreach efforts. If we’re to be successful we must be both genuine and inventive about this. Flyers won’t work. And we already have excellent exposure as a club to the 25-35 bearded white male demographic with our existing methods. So — we must try different things. Partnerships with other community groups and partnerships with charities offer especially excellent opportunities to both do good and share our love of homebrewing.

Beyond this, we must maintain a critical approach to diversity within the club:

  • We must defend our events as safe spaces for all. There truly is “room for everyone” in brewing, and we must embody that.
  • If we notice women and minorities are not returning to our events, that is always worth following up on.
  • We shouldn’t be shy about making our existing diversity more visible. Group photos, event photos, and member profiles are opportunities for us to highlight our existing diversity, and signal club values — that everyone is welcome in True Grist.
  • Lastly, we must keep diversity discussions happening within our club – always ask ourselves how we can make our group more welcoming, and generate ideas for reaching new demographics with our outreach efforts.

Huge thanks again to Renée for speaking at our meeting!

If you have any ideas for increasing diversity within the club, please share on our forum, at a meeting, or with me directly (). If you would ever like to provide anonymous feedback, that can be done through the anonymous feedback form at the bottom of our Executive page. All ideas, feedback, and complaints will always be taken seriously, and we value each as an opportunity to improve our club.