Art of Craft ~ brews and reviews
By Greg Richardson

Brienne Allen

I write about craft beer and spiritual life.

The more I explore spiritual life and craft brewing, the more qualities I discover they share. There is a lot about both craft beer and spiritual life which attracts me.

Both have been aspects of my life for a long time. I grew up in the state with the highest per capita consumption of beer in the United States. At the same time, even though it may sound ironic, I was also raised with a strong appreciation for spiritual life.

Craft brewing and spiritual life both have components which are personal and individual, while both are also based in community. The healthiest aspects of both include giving people opportunities to make their own choices. Each one presents people with many options to try, and to question, and allows them to form their own preferences.

Spiritual life and craft beers both can bring people together and help them become more open to new ideas and experiences. I have meet some people with whom I have become good friends through both craft brewing and spiritual life.

Not all the qualities they share, unfortunately, are helpful or positive.

History is filled with examples of when spiritual life and religion have divided people more than bringing them together. There are times when spiritual life loses its focus and becomes more about political force and power than about deep truths. People have used spiritual life as an excuse to abuse and oppress others through fear and intimidation.

For example, one of the conflicts among people interested in spiritual life which continues to be fought is about the role of people who are not white men. Some people believe women, for example, should not be allowed to fill positions of spiritual authority. They will go to great lengths and attack in intensely personal ways to make women uncomfortable.

It is a challenge for me to understand their beliefs and their actions. I have learned more practical theology, more everyday spirituality, from women, particularly writers, than from men.

I am learning the craft brewing world also shares some of these same attitudes about women and men with the world of spiritual life.

Brienne Allan, a production manager ay Notch Brewing in Massachusetts, asked a simple question on Instagram. What sexist comments have you experienced?

Her question prompted a long list of responses cataloging people experiencing sexism and racism in the craft brewing community on Instagram at @ratmagnet. Some of the stories are summarized and some are repeated in full.

The stories are discouraging and reflect a lack of respect and lack of information. I wish no one working in craft brewing were forced to deal with these types of experiences.

Some breweries have already made changes in their personnel and their management structures as a result of these stories. How can we, as members of the craft beer community, respond to apply the lessons in these stories?

A first step is to listen. We can spend enough time reading the stories people have posted and put ourselves in the place of the people who posted them.

Another step is we can learn more about the breweries and tasting rooms where we spend our time and money. Especially now, as we emerge from staying at home, we can pay attention to the breweries we patronize. We can do research before we make decisions about what beer we will drink to find out about the people who produce it.

Yes, women and people of color drink beer and know about how beer is brewed. They are brewers and production managers and essential to how the beer we drink is crafted.

Third, we can make sure we treat the people we meet at the craft breweries we support with respect.

This is the first month some of us will be returning to tasting rooms and breweries. We can make sure we are well informed, respectful patrons.


Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor in Pasadena, California. He is passionate about craft brewing, listening, and monks and monastic life. Greg has served as an assistant district attorney and an associate university professor. Greg’s website is and he is on Twitter @StrategicMonk. You can email Greg at, and he writes a blog for the Contemplative channel on

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