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- Author or Editor: Nathaniel G. Chapman x
Beer in the United States has always been bound up with race, racism, and the construction of white institutions and identities.
Given the very quick rise of craft beer, as well as the myopic scholarly focus on economic and historical trends in the field, there is an urgent need to take stock of the intersectional inequalities that such realities gloss over.
This unique book carves a much-needed critical and interdisciplinary path to examine and understand the racial dynamics in the craft beer industry and the popular consumption of beer.
This chapter explains that although the central story of race and beer in the United States is one that centers on the production and reproduction of whiteness, there is reason to believe that the racialized social structure of beer might be cracking. It looks at several developments that may indicate critical change in the phenomenon of craft beer. There is no doubt that there are several contemporary currents that are pressing against the whiteness of craft beer, and there is also no doubt that it is all happening right now. The chapter highlights several of these taking place across the country, in minority-owned breweries and in the digital space of social media, in order to get a bird's eye view of their challenges and resilience in the face of such a structure. It also considers the few black/Latino/Asian and immigrant enclaves of beer in the country where beer is celebrated to its fullest. This leads into discussions of cutting-edge festivals like Fresh Fest and High Gravity Hip-Hop, as well as clever collaborations that are challenging the centuries-long relationship between whiteness and beer.
This chapter provides an overview of the whiteness of craft beer. When one looks at the deep history of beer and its origin stories in the 'new world,' one realizes that beer in the United States has always been bound up with race, racism, and the construction of white institutions and identities. Given the very quick and meteoric rise of the craft beer industry, especially in the United States, as well as the myopic scholarly focus on economic and historical trends in the industry, there is an urgent need to take stock of the intersectional inequalities that such realities gloss over. The chapter then outlines the book's guiding theoretical perspectives. These include race and the founding of the United States; racial ideology and the boundaries of Americanity; the production of (beer as) culture; and cultural diversity and brewing.
This chapter discusses how the search for the origins of beer and brewing in the United States has been hampered by the realities of the racial, gendered, and classed inequalities that created the United States in the first place. It integrates an overview of the deep history of beer in the US context, largely from 1587 until the end of Prohibition. Along the way, the chapter illuminates and critiques the 'origin stories' of beer. It uncovers some stories that have been long buried, asking questions that have not been adequately asked up until now. This deep history reveals some mythological stories as well as the old narratives that have served to cover up a full knowledge of race, racism, and beer, many of which the new narratives being pushed by contemporary brewers, beer lovers, and industry folks of color, though few and far between, continue to fight.
This chapter focuses on the post-Prohibition era up until craft beer arises as a response. Understanding how beer became racialized helps one to grapple with the continuities of its whiteness and the maintenance of racist practices within the beer industry writ large. The chapter looks at the historical and contemporary (re)construction of the craft beer response, largely through a critical look at the relationality of the three-tier distribution system and its structural and cultural linkages to race, racism, and racial exclusion in the industry as homebrewing arose (again) and craft was emerging. Additionally, it considers the role of actors at each level of the three-tier system in order to fully understand how exposure to craft beer through industry employment, marketing, and consumption contributes to and is the product of the racialization of beer. The respondents helped cast the three-tier distribution system in a whole new light as it plays out on the ground to make and keep the craft beer industry and culture white.
This chapter examines how, given the historical realities that have built the current structure of the craft beer industry in the United States, we today see a structure that is itself racialized, gendered, and exclusionary. The systematic erasure of black and brown practices of brewing and drinking in early America; the creation and solidification of pubs and taverns, and the subsequent establishment and legal consecration of such spaces as 'white' establishments; the construction and solidification of the three-tiered distribution system that defined the oligopolistic beer structure that launched the big beer families; and all the way through the signing of the Homebrewers Act in 1978 — all these things have contributed to and solidified this structure. It is worth interrogating how it is that individuals have gotten and contemporarily get into the positions within the three-tiered system itself. The structure itself is one thing; the bodies within that structure are another, having the potential to either challenge the structural realities and/or to build the culture and symbolic violence that continues to actively exclude people of color. The chapter then lays out the social structure of becoming a brewer, a beer representative/distributor, and a consumer — the three parts of the three-tiered distribution system.
This chapter investigates how the lack of diversity and representation in the craft beer industry has led to the systematic exclusion of black people from beer consumption. One way to do this is to focus on the use of racially targeted marketing to sell cheaper products of lesser quality to communities of color; malt liquor is a critical case. Another way is to interrogate the ways in which the contemporary craft beer industry has appropriated black culture and iconography to sell beer to white people. The issue of representation, both socially and culturally, is of key importance in looking at the marketing of beer. According to interview data, the issue of representation is a major barrier in preventing black, other minority, and female participation in craft beer and its cultures. Given this reality, it is not surprising at all that most significant efforts to diversify the beer industry have mostly been led by consumers.
This chapter evaluates the ways in which craft beer has reshaped spaces, places, and cultures in the image of white people, whiteness, and white supremacy. Craft beer spaces and places are typically located in gentrified areas, which have become signifiers of gentrification and middle-class consumption. The chapter then argues that craft breweries socially and culturally construct authentic identities that reflect middle-class values. It also explores the ways in which gentrification and craft beer are entangled, and the processes whereby such beer gentrification leads to the creation of 'white spaces.' Using interview data, the chapter examines how these spaces discourage and exclude black people and other minorities from participating in craft beer cultures, and therefore its consumption.