Last year, a man who self-identified as a men’s rights activist (MRA) filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles’ Eagle Rock Brewery after he was allegedly denied access to the Women’s Beer Forum, a monthly meetup Eagle Rock has hosted since 2011.
Eagle Rock’s female co-founder Ting Su says the brewery was unaware of the issue at the time, as the man had not purchased a ticket to the event, and offered him entry to a similar event thereafter. He refused the offer, and successfully filed a discrimination claim through the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). Last week, reports surfaced that the brewery decided to settle the claim.
For those of us level-headed folks, and those of us who champion women leaders in the beer industry, this a huge bummer. But there is a silver lining: Eagle Rock launched a GoFundMe page last week to raise awareness (and money) for what happened, and more than 420 people donated upwards of $16,000 in one week. Su wrote on the GoFundMe page: “Our goal is to work on getting legislators to amend the Unruh Act and eliminate the ongoing abuse of this law. As much as we would love to simply put this situation behind us, we very strongly feel there needs to be more awareness about these ‘men’s rights activists’ who target and unfairly take advantage of women’s groups and small businesses.”
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The Unruh Civil Rights Act states that, “All persons within the jurisdiction of this state are free and equal, and no matter what their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sexual orientation, citizenship, primary language, or immigration status are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever.” It is commonly used by MRAs to target businesses in California, Munchies reports.
Su was advised not to name the man who filed the complaint, but a source close to the situation confirmed with VinePair that the man in question is Steve Frye, a well-known MRA who, according to the Los Angeles Times, has sued several businesses in California “for having ‘ladies’ night’ specials, or deals that specifically benefit women.” In 2011, he sued Donald Trump’s golf course for discrimination when an event for Breast Cancer Awareness charged women a lower ticket price than men.
Whether Frye did this or not doesn’t matter. What happened to Eagle Rock proves that even as women achieve more presence in the beer industry, they are still threatened. Our presence comes at a cost—in this case, literally—and in general, physically and politically.
This man did not sue for passion. He sued to make a profit. Targeting female-run events and businesses is a lousy way to make a point. I can only hope that, aside from men like Frye finding better ways to have their voices heard, we will continue to see brewery owners like Su stand up for what’s right.
Constellation CEO to Step Down as More People Toke Up
Constellation Brands announced last week that CEO Rob Sands will step down from his position on March 1, 2019. Sands will assume the role of executive chairman, where he will oversee the company’s recent investment into Canopy Growth Corporation, a Canadian cannabis company.
Toking up is no joke. It’s a multi-billion dollar business, and one that brewery behemoths are paying attention to, and paying for.
Constellation invested a cool $4 billion into Canopy Growth this year. Molson Coors Canada formed a joint venture with a Canadian cannabis company in August, and Heineken-owned Lagunitas launched CBD- and THC-infused sparkling waters in July. Wholesalers are getting in on it, too: Breakthru Beverage announced a $9.2 million investment in Canadian medical marijuana producer, CannTrust, in September.
As more states legalize cannabis, you better believe more brewery execs will be finding more ways—and more money—to invest in this opportunity.
Harpoon Spears IPA Sales in Massachusetts
The Boston Business Journal recently published a list of the top 25 best-selling IPAs in Massachusetts, Brewbound reports. Topping the list is Boston-based Harpoon Brewery’s Harpoon IPA, accounting for $5.6 million in off-premise sales. Following at number two is Founders All Day IPA ($3.1 million); with Lawson’s Sip of Sunshine following close behind at number three ($2.9 million).
The report, which analysed off-premise sales data from market research firm IRI, also noted that out-of-state IPAs are slipping. Sales declined for Ballast Point Sculpin IPA, Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA and 60 Minute IPA, Smuttynose Finest Kind IPA, Lagunitas IPA and Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ IPA, and Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA.
Neither Harpoon’s success nor regional brands’ decline are surprising. Harpoon is one of the state’s largest producers, and more than ever, consumers are looking for local brands. What I do find surprising is the two runners-up, both accounting for around $3 million in off-premise sales, are Founders and Lawson’s.
Founders, based in Grand Rapids, Mich., is the 15th largest brewery in the U.S., backed by Spain’s largest brewery, Mahou San Miguel. Lawson’s, meanwhile, is a small operation based in Vermont. Its Sip of Sunshine brand is produced at Connecticut’s Two Roads Brewing, another small brewery. The fact that these two brands are neck-and-neck is a huge win for Lawson’s. It seems Massachusetts has caught on to the region’s tastiest, trendiest IPA.