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Female Brewers in South Carolina Fighting Discrimination by Making Beer
By Chase Karacostas, The Sun News
Published January 3, 2022

(Unsplash)

Tidal Creek Brewhouse, having long prided itself on supporting its local community and marginalized groups, is taking another step forward in fighting discrimination _ but within its own industry.

The Myrtle Beach brewery recently began making a new beer called “Brave Noise,” a brew invented this year following online discussions and activism against racism, sexism and misogyny within the beer industry and hospitality as a whole.

The conversations around discrimination in the brewing industry began earlier this year when Brienne Allen, a brewer for Notch Brewing in Massachusetts, asked a question on Instagram: “Have you ever experienced sexism in the beer industry?” That simple sentence sparked a flood of people to tell stories about discrimination they had faced at work, said Taylor Garrity, a lead bartender at Tidal Creek.

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The overwhelming response led Allen and others to launch “Brave Noise,” a collaboration among breweries to create a safer environment for everyone _ people of color, women and LGBTQ+ people.

“It turned into a revolution in the beer world to take over and prove that women can do whatever the hell they want,” Garrity said. “And us being female owned, I thought that was super important.”

The collaboration includes brewing the namesake beer, a hazy pale ale, and making several commitments to ensure the bar is a safe place for employees and customers. “

By brewing this beer, your brewery is standing in solidarity with those who shared their stories about mistreatment and who are survivors of gender discrimination, racism, sexual assault, and harassment within the industry. By standing with us now, you are part of the movement for change that is long overdue in beer,” a statement from the Brave Noise website says.

There are several requirements to be part of the collaboration. Bars have to put together a code of conduct, outlining various unacceptable behaviors, and provide a “safe word” that customers and employees can use to seek help. At Tidal Creek, Garrity wrote the code of conduct, which is now posted around the bar, including in all of its bathrooms.

The code of conduct states that the bar does not tolerate discrimination of any kind _ homophobia, racism, sexism, misogyny or anything else that might make others feel uncomfortable _ and includes multiple ways people can seek help. Tidal Creek’s phone number is listed on the code of conduct, as well as the safe word “When is high tide?” which will signal to the bar’s staff that the person is in need of help, whether that’s being walked to their car or calling for a ride to pick them up.

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Tidal Creek staff began working on the beer at the end of December. All four staff members working on the beer were women: head brewer Jordan Skeen, Garrity, beer cellar worker Leah Antonelli and bartender Amanda Post.

“All of us have experienced a lot of misogynistic behaviors in this industry,” Garrity said. “It is frustrating to know that people are still acting like that to this day. I’ve had people come to the bar and they would rather have a man tell them about our beers, and they would rather ask men for their opinions when I’m probably one of the better qualified ones behind the bar to tell them.”

Making Brave Noise is just the latest step in Tidal Creek owner Dara Liberatore’s efforts to make her business a place that’s welcoming for everyone. The bar has Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ Pride flags outside. Liberatore also doesn’t tolerate customers being rude to her staff and is known to leave dinner parties to deal with problems at the bar.

“Women are often put on the back seat here in the industry, and it’s really not fair because it’s becoming a growing industry, and there’s a lot of females that really want to make it big in the craft industry. So for us, it’s very important,” Liberatore said. “We hire and we employ so many females. It’s not that we’re choosing men over women, but there’s so many women that are interested in being involved and being involved in the behind the scenes of the craft industry that we wanted to bring it to the forefront.”

Despite beer brewing being a male-dominated industry, she hired Skeen as her second head brewer and gives Skeen freedom to experiment.

“While my personal experience has been really positive, especially with my coworkers, I have received negative comments from customers or other people in the industry that just don’t really understand what it’s like to be a female brewer,” Skeen said.

“Anything that gets me to talk about something that I’m not the most comfortable with, that pushes me into a new place, could maybe help somebody else who’s struggling with the same thing but doesn’t want to talk about it,” she added.

Six months ago, she opened her doors to events hosted by Pride Myrtle Beach, a local LGBTQ+ community organization, and made their presence a nonnegotiable to her staff.

“We told them this was happening and we said, `If you have an issue, you need to come forward because this may not be the right environment at the end of the day for you,’ because we want to make sure that we accept everybody,” Liberatore said in October. “Every single teammate felt as though, `This is who we are and this is what we’re all about.”’

Tidal Creek isn’t making a beer to stand in solidarity. It’s going for more concrete steps as well, including helping raise money for the nonprofit Another Round, Another Rally. The nonprofit supports service workers who have fallen on hard times, whether they lost their job or had a personal emergency.

“When you’re in this industry, you have to support everyone,” Garrity said.

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