It’s no secret that the diversity of craft beer is so dismal when the culture of beer itself has become so associated with masculinity and something that has become a sort of hobby for the middle class who moonlight as homebrewers and self-proclaimed cicerones.
The Brewers Association released a report this past August which found that 88% of craft brewery owners were white. As for gender diversity, it doesn’t get much better. The same study found that of the breweries owned by one gender, 96% were male.
All of this makes Metal Rat hazy India pale ale — the Chinese New Year collaboration between Seattle’s Lucky Envelope Brewing and Asheville’s Highland Brewing — significant. Both breweries are owned by Chinese Americans and Highland’s president and CEO is a woman, Leah Wong Ashburn.
“To have a Chinese American-owned brewery from the West Coast brew with a Chinese American-owned brewery on the East Coast was just really exciting for both sides,” says Barry Chan, co-founder and head brewer of Lucky Envelope.
Right now, there is no formal committee or group advocating for diversity in the craft beer industry in Washington State but on a national level, the Brewers Association formed a diversity committee in 2017.
“I think that the [Washington Brewers] Guild and the brewers themselves started putting attention and resources to that and [to] try and figure out how to make the brewing community feel more comfortable [for] minorities and figure out how to improve that,” says Raymond Kwan, co-founder and director of operations of Lucky Envelope.
Trace Redmond, Highland Brewing’s head brewer, Chan and Kwan visited each other’s breweries for a brew day. In a nod to their home states, the IPA features grain from both North Carolina’s Epiphany Malting and Washington’s Skagit Valley Malting.
“Our Hopsteiner hop supplier representative presented the idea of the Lotus hops,” Highland’s Ashburn says. “It’s is a new variety with lots of lush orange notes and the lotus motif fit perfectly into our larger celebration of Chinese culture and heritage.”
Both breweries will release their special collaboration beer, the Metal Rat Hazy IPA tomorrow, January 25, in honor of the Year of the Rat. Merchandise including shirts and stickers commemorating the event and collaboration will be available at both breweries.