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NC’s craft beer scene has a diversity problem. Scholarship initiative aims to help

Drew Jackson, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in Business News

At Bond Brothers, Baker said the intern will also work toward completing the Level One Cicerone exam, the beer world’s equivalent of wine’s sommelier certification, so he or she will have a real world credential to take into a job.

“The idea is to launch craft beer careers for people who feel like they can’t break into the beer scene,” Baker said. “The Catch-22 is you need experience, but you can’t get experience.”

That cycle, Baker said, has contributed to craft beer looking much like it did in the beginning, white and male.

“It’s not very diverse,” Baker said. “Most of the people in craft beer are mostly white and male.”

After eight years of homebrewing, Baker initially couldn’t get a job in beer. The former high school chemistry teacher was looking to move out of the classroom and into a brewery, but no one would hire him without experience working in one. He said his only way in was to start his own, forming Bond Brothers with brothers Jay and Jeremy Bond and Andy Schnitzer.

“Craft beer as a culture should be as diverse as anywhere, but it does tend not to be,” Baker said.

 

Briana Brake founded Spaceway Brewing as North Carolina’s only Black, female-owned brewery.

She got into beer as a hobbyist home brewer, a passion she wanted to pursue professionally. But with a background in computer science and law, brewing jobs proved tough to land. She completed Wake Tech’s certification program, but that still didn’t help her get a position at any local breweries. She said she sent applications to numerous breweries only to get one response.

“It just said ‘Thanks for applying,’” Brake said.

As she considered starting her own brewery, the costs of space and equipment seemed daunting and Brake couldn’t sign any investors or loans. She eventually found a space in Rocky Mount’s incubator development, where she could lease brewing equipment.

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