Women in the Brewing Industry Band Together to Showcase their Strength in Unity, and their Biceps

Arm-wrestling Tournament: Rumble in the Jungle, June 30 

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The Pink Boots Society (PBS) was created to assist, inspire and encourage women beer industry professionals to advance their careers through education. Made up of the female movers and shakers in the beer industry, the organization holds chapters all over the world, with Boston boasting 180 members, being the largest.  

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It’s all female membership strives to brew beer with the highest possible quality. They own breweries, package the beer, design labels, serve beers, write about beer, and cover just about any aspect of beer. Most importantly, the group fosters community, mentorship, knowledge sharing, and works to teach one another best practices through meetings and seminar programs. The group also raises money to offer educational scholarships to its members. 

One of those fundraisers includes a highly anticipated arm wrestling tournament, now in its fourth year.  Rumble in the Jungle, presented by PBS Boston will return on June 30, hosted by True North Ales. 

The idea was borrowed from a farmers’ arm wrestling league in Western Massachusetts. It had been such a successful fundraising tool for the farming group, that PBS member Andrea Stanley, owner of Valley Malt, brought the idea to table. The rest is history. 

“Other than beer festivals, we really don't have many events in Massachusetts that bring industry folk together. Not only is this event super industry centric, it also highlights some our forgotten players,” says PBS Boston Chapter leader Brienne Allan. “If you've seen the photos from previous years you’ll notice there isn’t a single person in the crowd that isn't screaming at the top of their lungs.”

Brienne admits that the first year she needed to nudge quite hard to get some PBS Boston members to sign up as wrestlers. It’s no small feat to be in the spotlight in front of 500 people. 

“A lot of women thanked me afterwards -- they didn't realize how supportive the industry can really be,” says Brienne. “It's an overwhelming feeling to know the entire community is behind you no matter what.” 

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Now there’s a waiting list to participate. New wrestlers are featured every year which brings to light just how much female power there is in the Massachusetts craft beer industry. No one knows exactly how many women are currently employed throughout the Commonwealth. Both the Mass Brewers Guild and Brewers Association hope to start tracking this data soon. 

The event is open to the public and tickets are $15 for PBS members and $20 for non-members. Despite the event targeting women in the industry the audience is typically a 50/50 split in gender.  

“We've never had an issue getting men to attend PBS events, even wearing our merchandise, specifically because we stay away from phrases like "women only" or "ladies"  and of course the pinkness in general,” says Brienne. “We've been pretty gender neutral since we started up and its crazy how supportive our male counterparts are. We're pretty lucky here in Massachusetts.”

Her advice to a brewery looking to host a female networking or educational event at their brewery? “Go for it and plan on it selling out! We never have enough space for these things. Make sure your business is closed and save plenty of time of social drinking. Also, don’t underestimate the women in the industry -- we don't need off-flavor courses or purse giveaways,” says Brienne. 

This feature is a part of a the MBG’s Inclusion & Diversity Success Story Series with the goal to share best practices, recruitment strategies, and event & program ideas that members can bring home to their breweries. Does your brewery or business have a story that they’d like to share? The MBG’s Diversity Committee wants to hear it! Reach out to MBG Executive Director Katie Stinchon at katie@massbrewersguild.org for more information. 

 

More than 150 Brewers Came Together For Learning, Networking and The Love of Good Beer.

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Knowledge sharing is what makes the craft beer industry special and sets us a part from other industries. It’s amazing to see colleagues and friends jumping in to help a fellow brewer in need – lending cans, ingredients and advice. 

Despite our numbers -- now 188 breweries across the Commonwealth – our industry is still young. We are still converting and educating macro beer drinkers, and working to keep consumers drinking and loving craft beer.

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Continuing our education, sharing what we know, and attending events like MBG Con ensures that MA Beer will always have the highest quality standards possible..  

The MBG’s second annual conference drew 150 attendees to Jack's Abby Craft Lagers and helped to raise $10,000 for our association. These are crucial funds to aid our organization’s work -- to protect and promote the interests of craft brewers. 

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Our voice carries the most weight on Beacon Hill when we are unified. When we are all working together for a common goal. We are currently working to combat decades old franchise laws, to achieve selling rights at farmers’ markets, to expand brew pub rights for self-distribution, and are working to keep our seasonal beer gardens. 

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A huge thanks to everyone who contributed to the event's success by speaking, sending your colleagues and staff to learn, and/or financially supporting the event. It’s a real team effort to pull together an afternoon of learning and knowledge sharing.

We raise a glass to the Hendler brothers and the entire staff at Jack's Abby Craft Lagers for hosting, to our MBG Con Committee – Jeremy Cross, from Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers, Maureen Fabry, from CraftRoots Brewing Co., Chris Sellers from The People’s Pint and Kelsey Roth from Exhibit ‘A’ Brewing Co., as well as event support from Christine Healy at Craft'd Events, Ryan Daigle from Wachusett Brewing Co., and Adam Romanow from Castle Island Brewing Co. 
 
And last and certainly not least thank you to leading sponsor Bernstein Shur,and supporting sponsors, ABS Commercial, Acadia InsuranceAmorettiBeerFests.com, Bowditch & Dewey, BrewWizzClick InsuranceCraft'd CompanyDWS Printing AssociatesEastern Standard ProvisionsFat Basset DesignFour Star FarmsHub International InsuranceInTouch LabelsMassPayMicromatic, One Off Apparel, Patriot EnergyRochester Midland Corp. and Theilmann. 

These folks not only helped to make this event affordable for attendees but they are also members of the MBG. They care deeply about the craft beer industry, so please return the favor by checking out their services to see if they are fit for your needs. 

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Our friends at MassPay generously donated their video services throughout the day to capture all of the conference sessions. Those who purchased tickets to the event will have access to all of the day's workshops. If you did not attend the event, you will be able to purchase access to these video sessions. 

We can only improve with your feedback. If you attended the event please share your experience by completing this brief survey. Thanks for your time! 

Until next year!

Beer Manufacturing and the Benefits of the Second Hand Equipment Market

As the beer industry continues to grow and develop, many breweries find themselves with an increasing amount of idle or surplus manufacturing equipment. In recent years, manufacturers have found the hidden value in their unwanted assets and are taking a more proactive approach, focused on improving efficiency and increasing their bottom line. 

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Many companies find themselves taking the easy route with their unused equipment, but what they may not realize is the amount of capital tied to these assets. In today’s industry, there are a number of service providers who help companies with buying, selling, and managing their equipment. Whether you are looking for consignment services to free up space in your facility immediately, listing a single asset for sale, or working with the sale of an entire site closure, a number of customized solutions are available through EquipNet. 

As one of the most prominent vendors in this field, EquipNet provides a holistic approach to helping its clients sell surplus equipment - Assisting with freeing up space in facilities, while maximizing the company’s financial return. 

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EquipNet’s MarketPlace is the largest online venue for pre-owned equipment; current inventory features a Complete 10 BBL Brewery with Hydrators, Mash, Tanks, Fermenters and Mills, a Complete Criveller Wine Filling Line with Filler, Corker, Gas Fill Capsule Application and Labeler, a Meccanica Spadoni Filtration System, a Palmer Rotary Can Line and Conveyance, and more. 

In addition to helping clients sell their assets, EquipNet occasionally has customers looking for specific pieces of equipment not listed on the company’s online MarketPlace. EquipNet is actively looking for: Brite Tanks, Filling Lines for Cans & Bottles, Fermentation Tanks, and more.

With the increasing demand of equipment within the manufacturing sector, EquipNet’s exclusive contracts help to get equipment in front of the most relevant buyers in the industry. The company’s clients span across a number of industries and range in size from small businesses to multinational Fortune 500 corporations. These solutions deliver maximized financial return while improving client’s corporate image, adhering to company’s safety standards, and contributing to sustainability initiatives.  

To learn more about the financial benefits of the second hand equipment market in the beer industry, reach out to Greg Feinberg or visit EquipNet.com today.

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Greg Feinberg, VP Business Development
gfeinberg@equipnet.com
781-821-3482 x2106

A Welcome Sign

Exhibit ‘A’ Brewing Co. taproom team learns ASL to better serve the deaf community in Framingham

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Exhibit ‘A’ Brewing Company is located in Framingham, Mass., which also happens to be the home of The Learning Center For The Deaf. 

A year after opening their brewery, they began to notice a trend of several deaf people coming into their taproom on a regular basis. Since no one on their staff was fluent in American Sign Language (ASL), there was some initial difficulty communicating. 

“We’d use a lot of gestures, body language, and pass notes to ensure that we were getting the beer they wanted, but beyond placing their order we couldn’t really communicate,” says Kelsey Roth, General Manager at Exhibit ‘A’ Brewing Co. “This felt empty to many of us behind the bar and certainly not up to the level of service we want to show to all of our customers.”

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When Eric, the brewery’s assistant taproom manager, requested to take ASL classes so he could better communicate with this group of regulars, the brewery saw it as an opportunity to train all staff instead and make it a companywide education. 

They brought in an instructor who led a class on ASL basics focused around bar service. The group was taught how to sign their names, basic numbers for pricing, how to sign critical words and phrases like can I help you? and would you like a beer? They also were given some insight into deaf culture. 

The overall goal for the team was to make their deaf customers feel more welcome and at home, even if they fumble their signs on occasion. Since then they’ve seen a steady stream of deaf customers. Their regulars often come in with new friends and faces. 

“That signals to us that the word is getting out that Exhibit ‘A’ Brewing is a welcome place for the deaf,” says Roth. “Or maybe they say --- hey want to get a good laughCome watch these bartenders try to use ASL--- either way, we don’t care as long as they feel welcome and comfortable in our taproom.” 

Exhibit ‘A’ Brewing Co. is located at 81 Morton St, Framingham, Mass. To learn more about the brewery, visit exhibit-a-brewing.com.

This story is the first in a series of inclusion success stories that are being collected and curated by the MBG’s Diversity Committee with the goal to share best practices and inspire our member breweries to bring these ideas home to their small businesses. Have an inclusion success story from your brewery or business that you’d like to share? We want to hear it! Reach out to MBG Executive Director Katie Stinchon at katie@massbrewersguild.org for more information. 

Craft Brewing – The Energy Management Mystery Solved

Craft brewers are the most creative segment of the brewing industry.  So, it should come as no surprise that many craft brewers have an interest in innovative solutions for energy efficiency and supply opportunities at their facilities.   For brewers to maximize the amount of money they can spend on their creative process, they should make reducing their energy spend a top priority.  They can accomplish this by understanding fluctuating energy costs, possible reduction measures to lower energy usage, and by developing a purchasing strategy that matches their operational needs.

Many owners and operators consider energy costs as an expense they cannot control, as something that simply rises and falls that they are on the hook to pay.  However, having this outlook will lose companies at least a little, if not substantial amounts of money.  

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There are many energy supply and efficiency options that are readily available to incorporate into daily brewing operations that would result in cost reductions, allowing for precious company capital to be spent elsewhere. While saving breweries money these solutions also make them industry leaders in sustainable practices.

Obviously, energy consumption varies from many factors that include the size, location, and product offerings of each brewery.  Although each brewer is unique, there is one thing among them that is the same, all breweries of all sizes can benefit from energy savings.  With the help of a Patriot advisor, clients can understand the wide array of supply options and energy conservation measure available from large to small.  For example, refrigeration usually creates the largest electrical load, while the brewing itself consumes the largest amount of natural gas while being used for heat.  Below is a non-exhaustive list of efficiency measures that Patriot Energy can offer our clients through its network of experienced providers.

Some Possible Energy Efficiency Measures 

Low Cost Measures

Low capital cost, quick payback, and are easy to implement.

  • Repairing steam and air leaks

  • Shutting down equipment when not used

  • Shutting off lighting in areas where lighting is not required

  • Changing air filters

  • Replacing incandescent bulbs with CFL or LED lamps

  • Repairing frail or missing insulation

  • Cleaning exhaust fans and repairing or replacing loose or broken belts on fans

  • Cleaning condenser coils

  • Insulating refrigerant suction lines

  • Checking walk-in coolers to ensure defrost timers are set properly

  • Maintaining good air flow around evaporators by removing debris and other objects that may block air flow

  • Repairing or replacing leaky or damaged HVAC duct work

Moderate Cost Measures

  • Variable speed drives (process, HVAC, and support applications)

  • High-efficiency lighting systems

  • Motion sensors

  • New insulation

  • High-efficiency HVAC units

  • Automated building energy management system (EMS)

  • Excess air control for boilers

  • Improving condensate return

  • Certain brewhouse heat recovery projects

  • Purchasing ENERGY STAR equipment

  • Replacing HVAC units older than 15 years with higher efficient SEER unit

  • Installing programmable controllers and using set back temperature settings during hours when facility is not occupied

  • Installing window blinds or shades for daytime heat reduction

  • Reducing start up time for boilers, conveyors etc.

  • Turning off warming cabinets when not in use

Major Cost Measures

  • Boiler flue stack heat recovery condenser

  • Brew kettle stack heat recovery

  • Renewables

  • New equipment (VSD air compressor, refrigeration chiller, etc.)

  • Installing high-grade energy-efficient windows and doors

  • Installing a “white” or “green” roof for the brewery

Next Steps

We enjoy helping our brewing clients develop strategies to reduce their energy spend and usage by gaining better visibility into their energy profile. The first step for us with a new client is to perform a complimentary energy analysis. We will analyze your consumption profile and risk tolerance. We can then advise on competitive energy suppliers, energy efficiency solutions, “green” power options, and utility bill audits.

As members of the Massachusetts Brewers Guild (MABG) and the Connecticut Brewers Guild (CTBG), Patriot Energy is there for brewers and restauranteurs around the North East.

About Patriot Energy Group

Patriot Energy Group is one of the largest and fastest growing retail electricity and natural gas management firms operating in all competitive markets throughout the U.S. As a client-side energy broker/advisor we work closely with our clients to help manage risks associated with energy costs. We offer professionally managed and diverse energy purchasing strategies, which combine unique fixed, index, and hybrid rate structures, as well as a as a comprehensive suite of energy efficiency and management options.

Sources:
5 Eco-friendly breweries across the U.S.
https://www.saveonenergy.com/learning-center/post/5-eco-friendly-breweries-across-the-u-s/

The State of Craft Beer
https://www.crresearch.com/blog/state-craft-beer

Sustainability Benchmarking Update Helps Brewers Gauge Utility Usage
https://www.brewersassociation.org/industry-updates/sustainability-benchmarking-update-helps-brewers-gauge-utility-usage/

WHY BEER LINE CLEANING AND KEG SERVICING IS A BREWERY'S GOLDEN TICKET

Poor hygiene is the leading factor affecting the quality of draft systems. Besides the health and safety of the customers, there are numerous other problems such as organoleptic alteration or the accumulation of bacteria that can affect the cleanliness of the draft line and the quality of the beverage served.

When draft systems are not properly cleaned, harmful microorganisms will begin to grow in the draft lines and associated equipment. It is therefore essential to implement a well-designed and regularly executed maintenance plan to ensure trouble-free draft system operation, and, to of course ensure a fresh beer packed full of flavor.

Best practice for cleaning frequency varies around the world and is influenced by many factors such as cellar temperatures, distances between keg and tap as well as dispensing temperatures.

Because every draft system is different, there is no definitive procedure for cleaning. There are, however, certain cleaning principles that can be applied to every system. In order to be effective, cleaning solutions need to come into contact with every single point of the draft line as well as every part of the associated equipment.

Despite the fact that some items like couplers and faucets can be hand cleaned, most of the system can only be reached by means of fluid flowing through the draft lines. The industry currently uses two cleaning procedures: recirculation by electric pump, and static or pressure pot cleaning.

  • Electric recirculating pump cleaning uses a combination of chemical cleaning and mechanical action to clean a draft system by increasing the normal flow rate through the lines during the cleaning process.

  • Static or pressure pot cleaning, for example THIELMANN Cleaning Can, is the best alternative for short runs of less than 4.5 m/14ft 7’’. This procedure is a versatile cleaning solution not only for beer but also for soft drinks dispensers. Cleaning Can pressure cleaning is the simplest solution to keep draft lines clean, since this method only requires the substitution of the keg by the Cleaning Can during the washing process

Cleaning Can has a maximum working pressure of 5 bar and is made of stainless steel EN 1.4301 (AISI304).

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Pressure pot cleaning, also known as “static cleaning” allows cleaning solution and draft line to be in contact for no less than 20 minutes. They can be equipped with various keg valves to clean up to five different system lines at once. It can have a different valve for all the couplers available and it can also be combined with jumpers to clean up to 20 lines in a single pass.

Once finished, the Cleaning Can simply needs to be untapped and the line re-tapped to the keg...easy!

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Now that you know how to keep your draft lines clean and your beer tasting great through effective draft system cleaning, let’s talk about the importance of keeping your keg fleet in top condition.

A keg fleet is only as strong as its weakest keg

Even though stainless steel kegs are more likely to withstand rough handling in the brewery or in transit – damage can still occur. Added to this, beer is becoming an increasingly international beverage with consumers wanting to try beers from all across the world, wherever they are.

This however, means that beers and their packaging – kegs, are travelling further distances than ever before and as they move through more complex supply chains, the likelihood of them being damaged, lost or stolen increases.

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The preventative aspect of servicing is vital, particularly for brewers operating on a smaller scale, where problems with a keg aren’t usually discovered until the keg leaks, the beer goes bad, or it doesn’t dispense properly anymore.

While all this has an effect on profits, so does the impact of having kegs out of service unnecessarily.

For a large-scale brewery with a keg fleet that numbers in the millions, there is more flexibility in the operating schedule of those kegs. The issue becomes more critical as the size of the keg fleet reduces; the smaller the fleet, the bigger impact each keg has on the overall brewing operation.

At this level, a smaller brewer simply cannot afford to have a keg not operating efficiently, or out of service, at any time. Kegs need to be operating at optimal levels continuously because every single keg represents a larger proportion of the overall brewing capacity of the brewery. The knock on effect can affect profit margins.

As an essential asset in any brewery, kegs require regular maintenance and servicing to keep them in top condition. The good news is that stainless steel kegs can be repaired easily and also cost-effectively. Stainless steel material delivers hygiene standards and it protects beer from UV light, pollution particles and corrosion. With stainless steel kegs, brewers can get durable, sterile containers that can be used up to a 30-year period.

Kegs that are maintained under a regular servicing schedule will also experience less down-time (better profit margins…woohoo!), a longer life span, and will continue to deliver the perfect brew, time after time.

Lifestyle Creep is a Slippery Slope

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By: Rich LeBranti

Suddenly you’re paying for a house that is too big, or a lease on a pickup truck you don’t use or just a membership to that fancy gym that you haven’t had the time to take advantage of yet. If your regular expenses are being paid for by credit cards or you can’t seem to save money at the end of each month, you might look toward “lifestyle creep” as the culprit. While it is easy to understand what lifestyle creep is and how it happens, it is still dangerously common among young professionals and those midway through their careers. 

Lifestyle creep or lifestyle inflation happens when you begin to earn more, and your spending increases right along with those paychecks. A new pair of shoes, a nicer apartment, a fancy car. These types of splurges are just the type of choices made by those who are falling victim to lifestyle creep. While, on its face there is nothing wrong with improving your quality of life as you begin to earn more, it is monumentally important that you have budgeted for your existing expenses, have a three-month emergency fund and have made a plan for saving for your retirement. 

Since about 2015, financial advisors have been using a time horizon of 100 years old to plan for their clients’ retirement. That is a lot of years past the time you may be planning to retire. With that comes rising medical costs as you age, inflation and the unknown of how you’d like to live in retirement and what you’d like to experience (and what it all costs). Planning for, saving for and investing in your retirement savings accounts is paramount to protecting your well-being in retirement. 

Lifestyle creep doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes it’s hard for people to notice that it is even happening until suddenly they’re over extended financially. Putting off saving in order spend on the things that you want or feel you need right now is a slippery slope and suddenly you may find yourself way behind your goal when it comes to your retirement plan.

When your expenses equal your income and there is no room for savings, you are putting yourself in a position where you don’t have any buffer when something comes up that you really do need money for. That is usually when people begin getting into debt. Using credit cards to pay for monthly expenses or using credit cards to fund unexpected large expenses and not being able to pay them off completely each month is the risk. The interest on your credit cards alone is now causing you to be paying 15% more for each item you buy. 

So, what can you do to avoid lifestyle creep? Here are three recommendations that we think curb the problem: 

1. Make a Budget

The only way to understand and change how you spend your money is by recording what you are spending and keeping track of it monthly. You must first put continuing and unavoidable expenses as the first priority (rent or mortgage, car payment, insurance, utilities, student loan payments, etc.). Then you must consider what you will need for household items like groceries, toiletries, cleaning products, pet food, etc. Once you have a handle on what those relatively fixed expenses are, then you need to determine what you will be saving each month for your emergency fund and for your retirement savings account whether it is a 401(k), IRA or another vehicle. Now is the fun part: Figuring out how and when to spend your disposable income! Our recommendation: Always choose experiences over stuff. Those memories last a lifetime. 

2. Try NOT to increase your expenses every time your income goes up.

Just because you’re making more money doesn’t mean you need to spend more, especially not immediately on frivolous items. It is good to set goals for hard earned wage increases and reward your good work with something that has true value or true necessity. You may be planning to get married, have a child, buy your first house or your first born is going to college in a few years. Using that raise as a vehicle for ramped up saving is a great way to curb your impulses and plan for a bright future.

3. The Gig Economy 

Having a side hustle or the opportunity to work freelance outside of your nine to five is a great way to earn extra cash and a great way to save if your paycheck and your expenses simply must stay neck and neck for the time being. According to a recent article in Forbes, the average side hustle earns workers about $8,000 per year in extra income. That would more than fully fund a Roth IRA for the year and not take a bite out of your paycheck. 

Spending on new toys (big or little), memberships you can’t really afford, and other frivolities can lead you to an outcome that may make you have regrets down the line. Prudence and patience are key to avoiding these common mistakes that lead to lifestyle creep. We hope that you take heed of our recommendations and that implementing them into your life helps you stay on the track to financial freedom. 

 

An Employment Lawyer’s Tips For Crafting a Job Application (Pun Definitely Intended)

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By: Brian Casaceli
Associate at Mirick O’Connell
Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits Group

Job applications can be an area with many traps for the unwary. Recruiting qualified applicants is a necessity for all employers – craft breweries included.  To assist in the hiring process, breweries should prepare job applications that elicit information needed to identify and evaluate qualified applicants.  In crafting a job application, breweries should be aware of state and federal employment laws governing what questions it may and, more importantly, may not, ask.  

What Can, And Should, Be Included In A Job Application 

Equal Employment Opportunity Statement

Every application should inform applicants that the brewery is an equal opportunity employer and will consider all applications for employment without regard to an applicant’s membership in a group or class protected by federal, state, or local law.  

Similarly, to ensure qualified individuals with a disability under state or federal law are afforded an equal employment opportunity to participate in the application process, breweries should  include a statement informing applicants to contact a designated individual at the brewery (i.e., the HR Manager) if they need a reasonable accommodation to complete the application process.   

Work History Questions

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            Breweries should ask applicants to list prior employers, the positions and dates held, hours worked per week, and the applicant’s reason for leaving.  Notably, when the application requests a candidate’s previous work experience, it should specifically inform the applicant that he/she may list any verified work performed on a volunteer basis. 

To the extent a brewery intends to conduct reference checks with prior employers the applicant identifies, the brewery should have the applicant specifically authorize his/her present and former employers to disclose to the brewery information regarding the applicant’s prior employment, and release all parties from any liability whatsoever resulting from such disclosure.   

 Education Questions

            Breweries may ask about the applicant’s educational background to the extent it is relevant to the requirements of the position for which the applicant is applying.  Questions about the name of the high school/GED, college/university, trade school, level of education obtained, location, area of study, and degrees earned are all appropriate.  Breweries should not, however, ask for graduation dates as such data could be used as a proxy to determine an applicant’s age and could provide fodder for an age discrimination claim from an applicant not chosen for the job. 

            If a brewery intends to conduct a check with an applicant’s educational institution, the applicant should authorize the institution to provide the brewery with pertinent information relative to the applicant, and release all parties from any liability whatsoever resulting from such disclosure.                  

            Questions Not to Ask on a Job Application or During an Interview

Questions About Personal Characteristics Protected by Law 

            The Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) recommends employers not ask applicants about personal characteristics protected by law, including race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, national origin or age.  Brewers should also refrain from asking any similar questions during an interview with the applicant, or at any other point during the hiring process. 

            The EEOC further notes that job applications may not seek information concerning, and interviewers may not ask questions about, an applicant’s disability, questions that are likely to reveal whether an applicant has a disability, or questions that seek an applicant’s genetic information. 

Criminal History Questions

In 2010, Massachusetts enacted “ban the box” legislation that prohibits employers from asking applicants about their criminal history on the initial employment application.  Last summer, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey warned seventeen employers in Massachusetts, and issued fines to four national employers with multiple locations in Massachusetts, for asking criminal history-related questions on initial job applications.  Given the Attorney General’s heightened enforcement of the law, craft breweries are well-advised to remove any criminal history related questions from their initial job applications. 

Massachusetts law does, however, permit an employer, in certain circumstances, to ask applicants about their criminal history after the initial job application, such as during an interview.  Before asking such questions, a brewery should seek advice of legal counsel.          

Salary History Questions 

On July 1, 2018, an amended version of the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act (“MEPA”) went into effect.  Except in limited circumstances, MEPA prohibits employers from asking applicants questions about their salary history at any point in the hiring process. Breweries may not, for example, inquire about the amount of money applicants make at their present job on an initial job application or during a subsequent in-person interview.  (Breweries may inquire about an applicant’s salary history in limited situations: (1) to confirm wage or salary history information voluntarily shared by the prospective employee; or (2) after an offer of employment with compensation has been made to the prospective employee.)   

Guidance from the Attorney General’s office advises employers that they may inquire about an applicant’s salary expectations (e.g. what the applicant is looking to make in the position for which they are applying).  To the extent such an inquiry is made, breweries must be careful not to ask the question in a way that is designed to elicit the employee’s salary history.     

Social Security Numbers

            Generally speaking, although employers are not legally precluded from asking applicants to provide their social security number on a job application, brewers should avoid collecting a social security number until after an offer of employment has been made and the information is needed to conduct a background and/or credit check.     

Lie Detector Tests

            Employers in Massachusetts may not require an applicant to undergo a lie detector test as a condition of employment or continued employment.  In fact, under Massachusetts law, all job applications must include the following statement:

It is unlawful in Massachusetts to require or administer a lie detector test as a condition of employment or continued employment.  An employer who violates this law shall be subject to criminal penalties and civil liability. 

Applicant’s Acknowledgment 

A job application should conclude by having the applicant review and acknowledge the following:

-      All of the information provided in the application is true, accurate and complete to the best of the applicant’s knowledge;

-      Omissions or false statements may result in withdrawal of a job offer or termination of employment if the applicant is hired;  

-      If offered employment at the brewery, the acceptance of such employment will not cause the applicant to violate any other agreement to which he/she is bound (i.e. a non-competition or non-disclosure agreement); 

-      To the extent the applicant is hired for employment, he/she will be an at-will employee and will have no contractual employment rights; and 

-      An offer of employment may be conditioned on the results of pre-employment drug screening, criminal records and/or background check.  

To the extent that a brewery seeks a credit check or an investigative consumer report as part of a background check, the brewery must comply with applicable state law and the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act which, in part, requires that the applicant be provided a separate disclosure and authorization form. Given the law’s technical requirements, breweries are advised to seek legal counsel when such checks are necessary. 

If a brewery intends to conduct pre-employment drug testing, the job application should explicitly identify this fact.  Giving advance notice to applicants that they may be required to undergo a drug test as part of the application process will create a diminished expectation of privacy, making it harder for an applicant to bring an invasion of privacy claim against a brewery.       

 Until next time, cheers!