Chicago Beer Summit Will Take On Gender, Race, Class, Immigration

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Topics covered at a four-day conference in the Windy City will address diversity in brewing and celebrate the industry’s history of women and immigrants.

This October 24th through the 27th, Chicago Brewseum will host the Beer Culture Summit—an inaugural 4-day conference and event series organized in partnership with museums, cultural organizations and breweries.

The coming together will assemble experts and enthusiasts from the Chicago area and around the country to exchange ideas, discuss beer-focused projects and share industry wisdom with each other and the public.

More than two dozen lectures, panels and beer events will take place in museums, taverns, and breweries around Chicago, with topics that range from ancient beer styles and local brewing history to beer’s sensory power, immigration and inclusiveness — as one of the goals of the summit is to encourage considering beer not just as a beverage but as a dynamic and influential cultural force.

Chicago Brewseum founder Liz Garibay tweeted: A couple of years ago I had an idea to create a conference that was a mashup of an academic, museum, and beer industry conference and something that would also be interesting to people not in those fields. The common denominator was, of course, beer because beer belongs to all.

For professionals and beer industry wonks, some names will definitely jump out from the weekend’s list of speakers and participants — author Randy Mosher, Cicerone program founder Ray Daniels and Avery Brewing‘s Travis Rupp among them. But this summit has gone beyond the normal let’s listen to some white dudes talk about brews kind of agenda, and it has brought together some of the industry’s most marginalized voices for talks about both the successes and challenges that beer brings to communities.

Let’s Talk About Sex. And Gender. And Race. And Class. Oh, And Beer, a panel discussion, will be one of the highlights, with moderator Carla Jean Lauter (The Beer Babe ), featuring panelists: Craft Beer Specialist Sally Selwan, Queer Brewing Project’s Lily Waite, craft beer media personality Chalonda White (Afro Beer Chick) and 5 Rabbit Cerveceria co-founder Andres Araya. Fostering a brewing and craft enjoyment culture that is widely welcoming, representative and respectful has increasingly become a priority for many in the beer community, and this panel is suited to shine a diverse light of perspective onto many of the related issues facing the craft brewing industry.

One evening’s summit festivities will be dedicated to a craft beer release which honors women hops industry laborers of the late 1800s. Ella, a wet-hopped harvest ale named after one of the Wisconsin women Dr. Jennifer Jordan chronicled in her research on the subject, will be poured Friday as the first in a new collaboration series called Voices. Dr. Jordan will share stories about the women, and collaborating brewers will discuss their approaches to making the beer and interpreting history.

“American beer history is neither bland nor homogeneous,” states the Brewseum website. “The people who make the nation’s beer are as diverse as the nation itself, but history has often forgotten or even erased their effort. The Voices collaboration series, produced by the Chicago Brewseum in partnership with breweries and cultural organizations around the country, pays tribute to the unseen and unheard pioneers who helped make American beer.”

Tackling the topic of immigration, Immigrants and the American Mash Tun will feature a group of academic panelists to combine a past and present look at migration and ethnicity, with the goal of illustrating how immigrant perspectives affect our beer as well as how they affect the cultural American identity.

“Immigrants don’t just bring their own brewing and drinking culture to the United States,” states the site. “Centuries ago and today, they’ve completely redefined the way Americans produce, think about, and consume beer, just as immigrants have reshaped American society for centuries.”

In total, there are 8 sessions planned Thursday through Sunday, broken up by several parties, beer tastings and dinners and networking opportunities. If you would like to attend, you can register here. The Beer Culture Summit is presented in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

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