Last Friday, Joe and I attended a beer panel at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club. On it were (from the announcement):
JUSTIN CROSSLEY, Radio Host/”Brewcaster,” The Brewing Network and CBS Radio
, Co-host, Beerschool.com Webcast
NICO FRECCIA, Beer Journalist; Co-owner, Restaurant and Brewery
DAN GORDON, Co-founder and Master Brewer, Gordon Biersch
DAVID MCLEAN, Owner and Brewmaster, Magnolia Pub and Brewery
BOBBY COLEMAN, Co-founder, Brewers Guild – Moderator
They started out discussing why San Francisco is such a hotspot for craft beer. They talked a lot about Fritz Maytag, the owner of Anchor Brewery, and his willingness to help others get going. He helped to create a feeling of comraderie among bay area brewers that continues to this day.
At the end, they took questions from the audience. I had written my question and turned it in before the panelists even started talking. I have to give them credit – despite a pile of dozens of possible questions, the moderator actually read mine: Why are there no women on the panel?
Justin replied with “Yes, I was told there would be women as well.” Which was funny, but, um, sort of reinforced that whole sexist vibe going on up there. Then Dan Gordon mentioned that Maureen Ogle, the author of “Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer” was there that night. Someone else mentioned that the second in command over at the Fairfield Budweiser is a woman. And then I believe it was Nico Freccio who said, “There are a lot of women involved in the beer industry. Unfortunately none of them started a brewery in the bay area.”
Now, none of that really adds up. My friend said later that it was the same kind of response some people give when accused of being racist: “No, see I have this one black friend, well, more of a coworker, so I can’t be racist.”
If Maureen Ogle was there, why wasn’t she ON the panel? And what does the fact that there are no women brewers in the area have to do with anything? Only 4 of the 6 men on the panel were brewers, so that obviously wasn’t a requirement. Again, I’m grateful they even addressed it, but it only served to highlight the problem.
After the panel was a beer and cheese tasting. My favorite beer was Gordon Biersch’s Marzen (which is apparently their most popular beer) and Joe’s was 21st Amendment‘s The Beer Hunter (a tribute to Michael Jackson). The cheese I kept going back to over and over again was the Fribourg Gruyere paired with Magnolia’s Bonnie Lee’s Best Bitter. It went well with the beer, but I would have eaten that cheese by the handful with or without it. Joe, because he’s a cheddar freak, loved the Cabot Vermont Cheddar pair with Beach Chalet’s West End Wheat. All in all, a very good time.