Inclusion

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. 

 

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.