I write about craft beer and spiritual
The more I explore spiritual life and
craft brewing, the more qualities I discover they share. There
is a lot about both craft beer and spiritual life which attracts
Both have been aspects of my life for a
long time. I grew up in the state with the highest per capita
consumption of beer in the United States. At the same time, even
though it may sound ironic, I was also raised with a strong
appreciation for spiritual life.
Craft brewing and spiritual life both
have components which are personal and individual, while both
are also based in community. The healthiest aspects of both
include giving people opportunities to make their own choices.
Each one presents people with many options to try, and to
question, and allows them to form their own preferences.
Spiritual life and craft beers both can
bring people together and help them become more open to new
ideas and experiences. I have meet some people with whom I have
become good friends through both craft brewing and spiritual
Not all the qualities they share,
unfortunately, are helpful or positive.
History is filled with examples of when
spiritual life and religion have divided people more than
bringing them together. There are times when spiritual life
loses its focus and becomes more about political force and power
than about deep truths. People have used spiritual life as an
excuse to abuse and oppress others through fear and
For example, one of the conflicts among
people interested in spiritual life which continues to be fought
is about the role of people who are not white men. Some people
believe women, for example, should not be allowed to fill
positions of spiritual authority. They will go to great lengths
and attack in intensely personal ways to make women
It is a challenge for me to understand
their beliefs and their actions. I have learned more practical
theology, more everyday spirituality, from women, particularly
writers, than from men.
I am learning the craft brewing world
also shares some of these same attitudes about women and men
with the world of spiritual life.
Brienne Allan, a production manager ay
Notch Brewing in Massachusetts, asked a simple question on
Instagram. What sexist comments have you experienced?
Her question prompted a long list of
responses cataloging people experiencing sexism and racism in
the craft brewing community on Instagram at @ratmagnet. Some of
the stories are summarized and some are repeated in full.
The stories are discouraging and reflect
a lack of respect and lack of information. I wish no one working
in craft brewing were forced to deal with these types of
Some breweries have already made changes
in their personnel and their management structures as a result
of these stories. How can we, as members of the craft beer
community, respond to apply the lessons in these stories?
A first step is to listen. We can spend
enough time reading the stories people have posted and put
ourselves in the place of the people who posted them.
Another step is we can learn more about
the breweries and tasting rooms where we spend our time and
money. Especially now, as we emerge from staying at home, we can
pay attention to the breweries we patronize. We can do research
before we make decisions about what beer we will drink to find
out about the people who produce it.
Yes, women and people of color drink
beer and know about how beer is brewed. They are brewers and
production managers and essential to how the beer we drink is
Third, we can make sure we treat the
people we meet at the craft breweries we support with respect.
This is the first month some of us will
be returning to tasting rooms and breweries. We can make sure we
are well informed, respectful patrons.
Richardson is a spiritual life mentor in Pasadena, California.
He is passionate about craft brewing, listening, and monks and
monastic life. Greg has served as an assistant district attorney
and an associate university professor. Greg’s website
is StrategicMonk.com and he is on Twitter @StrategicMonk. You
can email Greg at StrategicMonk@gmail.com,
and he writes a blog for the Contemplative channel on http://www.patheos.com.