“I think this is a really good thing to point out right now. We are two dynamic craft beer brands — lifestyle, reviewers. There’s so many lanes that we can fit in right now. You are the only bearded white man in the room. How does that make you feel?”
It’s refreshing to know that the discussion about diversity in craft beer is being had somewhat actively, and it seems that nobody is hitting the topic harder than Teo and Beny from Los Angeles’ Dope & Dank. If you’ve seen recent posts here, you’ll have noticed that Teo and I are good friends — shout out to him for co-hosting all five of the L.A. podcasts back in October. On top of being a great human, Teo’s passion for craft beer is unparalleled. The work he and Beny are doing in the movement is nothing short of phenomenal — so much so that they were both named as Imbibe Magazine’s Beer People Of The Year.
Heading to L.A., we knew it was paramount for our crew to sit down with Teo and Beny for a long form chat so we could let our audience learn about the essence of Dope & Dank. If the readership here reflects the demographics of the craft beer community at large, easily the majority of you checking out this post are: white, heterosexual, male and possibly bearded. So, do your best to keep your empathy hat on. During our chat, Teo talked about being the only black man in a line waiting to get into a beer festival. If that doesn’t resonate with you, answer these questions: When is the last time you looked around a room and saw not a soul who looked like you? How did that make you feel?
Beer in the mainstream is enjoyed by (almost) everyone; craft beer, for reasons Teo explains in the podcast, is still enjoyed disproportionately by white folks — and white males for that matter. This fact bothers me, mostly because when I walk into a brewpub, I don’t see a representation of society. Although I’m seeing more and more women in attendance (which is dope), the tone of the flesh in the place is still overwhelmingly pale. When someone like my partner and BAOS Producer Tiffany, who is of Jamaican descent, walks into that same room she has to be very aware that she’s all too often the only woman, black person or both — and she ends up in more craft beer scenarios than the average person.
Sharing a life in beer with Tiffany has made me become more aware of the black beer lover’s plight. That has led me to have a greater appreciation for what Teo and Beny are doing with Dope & Dank. What I really LOVE is that they are taking craft beer into new venues and actively changing the makeup of the community by running their events in spaces which are comfortable and welcoming to folks who may feel intimidated in some more traditional brew establishments. Barbershops and sneaker stores are often the backdrops for the tastings they host, which are accompanied by DJs blasting Hip Hop while everyone sips on fire ass beers they otherwise would not have tried — that’s some cool ass shit.
Tiffany and I attended Dope & Dank’s The Crawl back in October, which took us through Boomtown Brewery, Mumford, Dry River and Indie Brew Co. via the SoCalBrewBus. Golden era Hip Hop set the soundtrack to a phenomenal experience speckled with freestyle sessions and skin colors that covered the entire human spectrum. I remember looking around Mumford and just smiling, thinking this is what the fuck craft beer is about, man — everyone involved.
I hope your empathy hat is still on, because I want you to realize that exclusion doesn’t have to be a proactive practice. If breweries are ignoring potential fans from outside of their usual pale, bearded consumers, it’s contributing to a monocultured (and extremely limited) market. With lines out the door for every can release and breweries sometimes struggling to keep up with demand, I can understand where the complacency comes from. But black people love beer, too, and craft breweries are losing out — we’re all losing out.
That’s part of the discussion we had with Teo and Beny. Of all the podcasts we’ve done, this is by far the most important and valuable to the community at large, and I hope y’all can take something away from watching it.
If you enjoyed the video, check out the full in-depth conversation via Apple Podcasts. And check out some of our latest video contest. Cheers!