Bloomberg Quicktake on Crafted Culture Brew with Sizzle #BeertheChange

It’s BIGGER than beer.

It’s October 22, 2020. I log into Facebook like I do every morning and I check out all the craft beer groups. I usually lurk because I don’t see anything new or engaging. Raise your hand if you’re as tired of reading about everyone’s new IPA release as I am. Today was different. Its #thirstythursday and I see a 4 pack of beers with Cardi B’s likeness. Mouth wide open, sexualizing a pineapple chunk.

How do you not stop when you see that? 

Please forgive my patriarchal attraction and temporary toxicity. I’m getting better by the beer. I promise.

At first glance, it seemed to be a dope can wrap and a trendy marketing concept. Then I took a closer look. I didn’t recognize the brewery. I kept digging and found another f***ing snake! A culture vulture if you will. No previous signs of supporting or engaging female, BIPOC, or even the Hip Hop community. There was nothing that appeared equitable or inclusive about this brewery. AT ALL.

Kevin Blodger of Union Craft Brewing in Baltimore, MD.

We live in this country that was built on the back of black folk’s trauma. A country that stifled the progression of women, and rebranded the initially female dominated industry of brewing and sold it as a man’s world, chocked full of man laws.

Steal our books. Burn our libraries. Kill our griots. Cut us off from the flow of knowledge. Then wait 400+ years to sell it back. The moment it becomes unlawful to own us as personal property, people begin repacking our image into comical, palatable forms and selling it to their friends and neighbors WITHOUT CONSENT. Feels a whole lot like what some of my favorite musicians have been singing about for decades now.

I think the part that really got to me was when I realized that I’d seen this before. Actual Brewing. Melvin Brewing. Loose Rail Brewing. Buckeye Brewcraft. Same script. Different cast. There’s a longer list but that’s not what we are here for. In the last 5 years I’ve read about or watched several breweries fold under the pressure of the mistakes of their leadership. How has no one learned from anyone else’s mistakes? It makes me think that they just don’t care. The craft beer community is too small to say “I had no clue that happened”. Especially not on matters of racial, sexual, and cultural misconduct in 2020. Is there anyone out there leading the leaders? Who trains the f**king trainers? Craft beer founders need someone to follow. Doing the right thing in silence is not enough. It’s time we take away the excuse.

I want to be clear, I DO NOT WANT THESE BREWERIES TO CLOSE. I want them to be educated and reform the way they navigate within these spaces and to the demographics they have wronged. There are socially conscious agencies in existence that help those businesses that actively seek this change.

CraftedForAll.com is dedicated to helping prevent this very thing from happening. Dr. J Nikol Jackson-Beckam has been lecturing to craft breweries across the country for years and gives guidance on creating, operating and sustaining an equitable and inclusive work environment.

You can even find help on the Craft Brewers Association website. The national leader in craft beer trends and information is taking action to spearhead the effort. See for yourself.

My thoughts on this issue may place me in the minority within those that watch this industry in real time. I’m okay with that, I’m used to it. That doesn’t change the fact that with every craft brewery that closes, big beer takes a larger hold on the consumer base.

We are an industry full of colleagues and collaborators. We should build up our teammates. The largest opportunities for growth in craft beer rest in engaging women and BIPOC craft beverage consumers. Knowing that, it’d be wise to seek first to understand and then be understood. Get to know this new consumer. Learn their past. Only then can you make a positive impact on their future.

…IT’D BE WISE TO SEEK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND AND THEN BE UNDERSTOOD

I could be naive in thinking that most offenders want to change or that these publicized mistakes are innocent. Can we possibly build a better world without burning the current one? Maybe that’s my colonial rewire speaking. I don’t have this all figured out. I’m not going to stop working towards it though. There will be days I feel like Snap Turner and days where I’m feeling like Michael Jackson. No matter which way I feel, I still want all of this to change for the better. 

This is why we continually push the narrative of positive change at Crafted Culture Brewing, through our #BeertheChange efforts. It’s why we partner with Spires Social and support their #beerINspires initiatives. It’s why I personally work with the OCBA subcommittee for Equity and Inclusion. A better way of doing things exists. As an industry, we make better beer every day. Let’s put that same energy into being better people.

5 Ways to Build Diversity in Craft Beer

Spires Social and CCB participate in Weathered Souls Black is Beautiful collaborative.

Before getting into craft beer sales, I managed a bar. I spent a great deal of time probing every beer rep for more details about the beers they would bring in for a tasting. I got so into it, I stopped having them come to me and I started visiting their taprooms instead. More often than not, I was the only person there that looked like me- BLACK.

While 12.2% of the U.S. population is Black, a 2018 study by the Brewers Association found that Black people make up a median of 1.8% of brewery positions and just 1% of craft brewery owners.

Black and brew: New York’s craft beer industry has a diversity problem | Will Cleveland | Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

I got to know all my local beers and breweries pretty well. I eventually left that job in search of a chance to get into the beer industry. I wanted to sell beer. Big brands and distributors kept saying I didn’t have enough industry experience. “It’s beer-,” I thought, “How hard can it be to sell?” I was denied 6 times for not having enough experience. I was ready to pack it in and go back to the bar and restaurant scene.

One day I get a call from one of my favorite reps (he always came through with the dope swag). When I answered he immediately told me he had gotten a job with a new company. He was now the Sales Manager at a brewery really close to my house. Before I could say I’m no longer with the restaurant, he tells me to check my email. He’d sent me an invitation to trivia night at his new brewery. I went to see him. We walked inside and enjoyed some really weird beers. Later I let him know that I was no longer with my previous company. Ultimately, it was a great night of laughs and really bad attempts at guessing trivia answers. 

A week later I get a call from him asking if I wanted to come sell beer on his team. To which I jumped at with the quickness. 

As I worked, I noticed again I was of the minority amongst my colleagues. In fact, there were only 3 black people (that I can recall) selling beer in my city at that time. I was shocked! This was 2016! When I asked the 3 other black men how they landed their beer sales jobs, they had similar stories, “Dumb luck!” It’s sad to think that every black person I knew in my industry got there by luck. No traditional path existed for us. Looking around, their weren’t very many women in craft beer either.

When I asked the 3 other black men how they landed their beer sales jobs, they had similar stories, “Dumb luck!” It’s sad to think that every black person I knew in my industry got there by luck.

That’s a crappy realization. One I don’t want anyone else to experience.

So here are 5 ways to build diversity in the craft beer industry

1. Try a new talent pool 

If your staff currently lacks a diverse appeal, don’t look in the same place for your next hire. It’s clear that your current fishing spot isn’t going to garner anything different. There are human resource networks and job search platforms dedicated to helping you find qualified candidates from a variety of backgrounds. Check out this job board dedicated to helping you build a more diverse team. 

2. Create targeted internships, scholarships, and grants

Create and offer internships and scholarships to people from underrepresented groups within craft beer and its auxiliary industries. Craft breweries need marketers, yeast scientists, chemical engineers, and your taproom will need to be led by someone with some background and education in hospitality. Each of these fields of study boasts a diverse make-up of qualified candidates that likely don’t even realize that the craft beer industry is an option for them. Contact minority organizations on colleges and ask for their help in promoting your internships and scholarships among their members.

3. Promote diversity on your careers site. If you don’t have one, get one!

I don’t necessarily look for the word diversity when I search for a job. I do take stock of the images a company puts on their site though. I figure if no one on the website looks like me, the staff probably doesn’t either. I know the graphic designer’s plight of scouring Unsplash and Canva with very little success finding diverse images for craft beer content. Consider adding some of the IRL candid images from your taproom. Ask patrons if it’s okay to use their image on your website or at the very least in the FB or IG post promoting the job your posting. If you lack diversity in your tap room, we should have a 1 on 1 contact me at sizzle@aminamarketingmedia.com to help you #GetSeen

4. Collaborate! 

This should be easy for many breweries. I’m certain you produce the occasional collab beer throughout the year. Why not collab with someone different. Reach out to a female-founded brewery or with any of the 60+ black-owned breweries in America. I’m sure that the recent 1000+ brewery collaboration for Black Is Beautiful has introduced several brands to new markets. Markets that better reflect diversity in consumers and business owners in craft beer. You can even commission a local artist to design the label for your next can release. Reach out to anyone that already captures the audience you would like to hire from. Don’t be afraid to ask your industry colleagues to share your job opportunities with their fan base.  

5. You have to get out there

Your path to a more diverse workforce is likely not right outside your front door. This is a new market for you. You must go to them and invite them in.

Be[er] the Change is an initiative to unite local craft breweries with home brewers and aspiring brewery owners from underrepresented communities of the craft beer industry.

Crafted Culture Brewing Company

Speak at the nearest HBCU- they have a careers team that helps students find work. Partner with the Urban League. Participate in job fairs that are centered around equity and inclusion. Get creative.

Photo by Sides Imagery on Pexels.com

Be a guerilla in this approach. Traditional channels have not led you to a diverse workforce, so stop using them if diversity is what you truly seek. Building a diverse workforce is not something that happens on accident. I’m really happy to be working in craft beer. No matter how happy I am, I am constantly aware of being the “only one” in a room. There is likely someone on your team right now that feels the pressure of being the only woman, the only BIPOC, the only gay or trans person on your team or the “only one” in your taproom.

Make diversity a priority and a more diverse community will make you a priority as well. We know you can #CraftBeer. Now is the time to #CrafttheCulture

Live Wild. Drink Responsibly. 

Sizzle@sippinwitsizzle

If you missed it, I’m a Co Founder and CEO of a brewery that is founded for the “only people” in the craft beer world. Crafted Culture Brewing Company.

Like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, subscribe and help us build equity and diversity in craft beer by sharing and contributing to our crowdfund.

“Be[er] the change you want to see in the world.”

Aye Yo! Craft Beer dude! Try the Black Market. All are welcome.

Most reading this will be new to my thoughts on marketing in the craft beverage industry. As a black man that enjoys crafts beers, wines, ciders, and spirits, I constantly have to scour the web to find events and products that I’d like to try. How is it possible that not one brewery, winery, or distillery in my area deems it profitable to market to me. Black dollars made up 12% of the $27 billion spent on craft {beer} in 2018. So why is it so rare to see targeted advertising for the black community? Especially when you consider the cultural affinity for richer, more decadent flavor profiles found in many higher-priced beer styles like Lambics, Stouts, and Porters. I get it though, craft beer is a suburban product by nature of its origin and that hasn’t changed much in its 200+ year history. To put it earnestly neither has the cultural makeup of many suburban neighborhoods in America. At some point, the neighborhood dollars will reach their limit and there will be a need to expand beyond its buying power. I don’t profess to have all the answers to reaching the black consumer but here are some thoughts on a few digital efforts you can attempt. They shouldn’t cost much and can result in the expansion, engagement, and education of a new consumer base. 

  • Look for micro-influencers. The black community is just that- a community! Seek out those within the community that can vouch for your product and the environment your brewery boasts. Think of it as your digital welcome mat. If there’s no welcome mat, we are not even approaching the door. 
  • Partner with your influencers to produce shoppable posts. Welcome mat or not, your brewery is likely not centered in the black community. Do not let logistics be the determining factor. Leverage your merch. Equip influencers with hats, hoodies, tees, and stickers to flaunt in their post. Send direct links to your swag store and BOOM your selling merch to an audience you couldn’t otherwise reach. I own 17 hats from breweries I’ve never visited or tried. The beer may not be hyperlocal but the gear can be.
  • Take up vlogging. Showcase your personality and the excitement that is unique to your brand. Consumers sharing in that identity and interest will engage you as a result. The more you give the more you get. A great way to encourage the share and repeat viewership is the instructional video. A nice ‘how to brew [insert your favorite recipe]”video would be awesome. The more content you have here the more time consumers can spend with your brand. 
  • Dedicate time to explore alternative and niche channels. Many black, beer enthusiasts, and even home brewers live in these areas. You’ll find and create raving fans for your brand and can even get genuine feedback to help order your steps moving forward. So hop in a few subreddits and have some fun with beer folks.
  • Most importantly take the time to do a real sentiment analysis. Understand that likes and dislikes don’t tell the entire story of the consumer experience. You need to look deeper into the comments, emojis, shorthand, and slanguage this new consumer base is leaving for you. If you opened a brewery in France you’d learn how to speak and react to the French language. Do the same here. Learn the intricacies of the many dialects that make up the black experience.

This is just my personal, semi-informed view of how to include a historically excluded group of consumers. There are black beer drinkers in your city right now. Many of which have been duped into drinking macro, masquerading as craft beer. Engage that consumer! Educate them on where to find better beers. Expand their palette and your consumer base! My people are like all other people- looking for good beer. Drop an ad. Say ‘What’s Up?’ You might even get invited to the cookout! 🙂

If the thought of a craft beer making its way into more urban communities excites you as much as it does us, like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, subscribe and help us build equity and diversity in craft beer by sharing and contributing to our crowdfund.

Now is the time to #CrafttheCulture.

Live Wild. Drink Responsibly. 

Sizzle – @sippinwitsizzle

If you missed it, I’m a Co Founder and CEO of a brewery that is founded for the “only people” in the craft beer world. Crafted Culture Brewing Company.

“Be[er] the change you want to see in the world.”

3 [Black] Craft Beer Buyer Personas Every Brewery Needs to Know About

Do you know who’s buying your beer? Sure it’s a beer drinker, but which one? Is it Noub Ianqueen? Dex T. Rose? Or maybe it’s Conrad “Connie” Seur? I should probably tell you these aren’t “real” people – not in a traditional sense. They are what’s called buyer personas I’ve created to represent 3 unique beer buyer types: the novice, the explorer, and the connoisseur. Each has a different relationship with craft beer. Get to know their relationship with beer and you have the opportunity to get to know them as well. Chances are, you’ve seen or spoken to each of these buyers already. For those that haven’t, allow me to introduce you. 

“Noub Ianqueen” @wheewheee
  1. Noub Ianqueen She is unapologetically Afrocentric. She pulled into the parking lot bopping to “Where My Girls At?” by 702. She’s here for a beer that’s better than average. Her beer is an accessory, designed to match her social exchange. That beer could easily be a cocktail, a glass of wine, or a cider depending on what her friends are having. Taste plays a smaller role in her beer experience than it does for other buyers. Most of the beers she drinks are recommendations from friends. Keep in mind, beer is not life for Noub. Happy Hour Specials and economic price points are a huge consideration in the decision-making process. When Noub approaches the bar she is attracted to your labels, logo, and the name of each beer. Your descriptions do not impress. She’ll likely ask your bartender “What do you have that’s close to [insert macro brand here].” She’s a tourist in this craft beer world, one open to the guidance of her friends and family that have been here before.
Anthony "Sizzle" Perry
“Dex T. Rose” Me, Anthony “Sizzle” Perry
  1. Dex T. Rose My man Dex is a bit of a nerd, but he’s as cool as polar bear toes. There’s a case of home-brewed beer in his basement that he made with his pals in the garage. He roams the craft beer landscape as though there are no boundaries and every inch of it is meant to be explored. He’s cataloging and rating his beer on Untappd along the way. No singular brewery is home- beer is. It’s likely that Dex made his way to you for a beer run, to see a live show, or brewery tour to impress his date with his knowledge of beer. Not committed to any particular style, he’ll likely order a flight so that he can experience something new. Quoted several times saying “Do it for the story” and “Let’s get weird”, Dex is known as a thrill seeker in social and professional circles. Open to your suggested food pairing if you offer a full menu. He may be zealous to reveal his knowledge to that date he brought in, but he would much rather you teach them both something new.
  1. Conrad “Connie’ Seur If Connie had a tagline it would read: “I ain’t new to this. I’m true to this.” He’s been into craft beer for many years and will gladly share with you amazing stories about Black history as it pertains to beer and the community. He’s basically a black beer griot. He’s been married for decades. Don’t tell his wife this, but he has a completely separate line in the budget just for beer. He’s also got a cellar to house his rare finds, an affinity for a good cigar, and he is within six degrees of separation from every brewmaster in the city.  Connie is here for the beer. He only visits breweries that boast brewers he knows and admires. It is not by chance or accident that Connie is at your bar. He came for something specific. He’s got his go-to beers in the fridge at home. Your Czech Pils may be amazing and he will likely drink one, but what he came for was your limited release. Your seasonal run. Your specialty draft. Hunting amazing beers is his hobby. When Connie talks about beer, he talks about brewing methods, personal preferences, and the historical significance of its particular style. With or without company, Connie will enjoy the beer. 

I created each of these personas to make sure the Ohio beers I’ve grown to love, all make it to the friends and family that I love to drink beer with.

Check out Coffee Brown from Mt Carmel; Tannenbaum Christmas Ale from Homestead; and Fox in the Stout from Seventh Son to explore a few.

How to use this guide best: Click each persona to get to know them better. You can just as easily create your own buyer personas free through Xtensio. Maybe you’re busy making great beer and would like me to create these personas for you? Just shoot a message to sizzle@aminamarketingmedia.com and I will gladly help you reach a new audience as well. 

Make diversity a priority and a more diverse community will make you a priority as well. We know you can #CraftBeer. Now is the time to #CrafttheCulture

Live Wild. Drink Responsibly. 

Sizzle – @sippinwitsizzle

If you missed it, I’m a Co Founder and CEO of a brewery that is founded for the “only people” in the craft beer world. Crafted Culture Brewing Company.

Like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, subscribe and help us build equity and diversity in craft beer by sharing and contributing to our crowdfund.

“Be[er] the change you want to see in the world.”