It began with a simple question.
When brewer Brienne Allan asked on her Instagram stories “Have you ever experienced sexism in the beer industry?”, responses, largely from women and non-binary folks, came in their thousands. It caused a shockwave that has been described as a “reckoning”, revealing a seedy underbelly of sexism and, in some of the worst cases, abuse that has been occurring in the beer industry all over the world.
In the UK, diversity in the beer industry has improved over the past few years, albeit at a slower pace than it should. A new wave of craft breweries has in turn made beer more accessible to a younger generation, and not just men. But the fact is that beer as a hobby still remains, largely, a male pursuit, and 85% of those employed in the UK beer industry are men.
Following the reckoning, Allan, with Ash Eliot, Jen Blair and Ren Navarro, set up Brave Noise, a “global collaborative effort to provide inclusive and safe environments for women, BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ throughout the beer industry”. Breweries can take part by brewing a Brave Noise beer of their own, but there’s a crucial point of entry: all participants must submit a code of conduct in order to do so. It’s a small way of developing a culture of accountability within the industry and making it a fairer, safer workplace for all.
The latest UK brewery to take part is Berkshire’s Elusive Brewing. This feels significant, as founder Andy Parker recently handed the role of managing director to Ruth Mitchell, who joined the brewery in 2021. It allows Andy to focus on what he loves most, making beer, while Ruth handles pretty much everything else.
Elusive’s take on Brave Noise saw the brewery collaborate with Charlotte Cook of London’s Coalition Brewing, plus Tori Powell and Joanne Love of the A Woman’s Brew podcast, and Pip Sprake of The Coven Brewsters. The latter will receive proceeds from the sale of this beer to fund its wellness officer programme and work to make beer festivals safer for all attendees.
Now onto the beer itself: it’s a West Coast style pale ale from Elusive, so it's pretty much perfect. Orange, tangerine, barley sugar – it’s all there, delivering the fullness of flavour you’d expect from a much bigger IPA.
If you’ve had a few Westies from Elusive before, then you know this is true to form. If you haven’t, welcome. And as well as enjoying such a delectable beer, you can be warm in the knowledge that the money you’ve spent on this beer is being used to effect genuine, positive change in the beer industry. Well done everyone.
Matthew Curtis is a writer, photographer and editor of Pellicle Magazine. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @totalcurtis and @pelliclemag. Sign up to our All Killer No Filler subscription box and you'll find incredible beers like this one every month, plus more great writing from Matthew and our food writer Claire Bullen.