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The color of beer: South Florida brewer demographics

Imagine someone making beer. Picture that person climbing to the top of a large steel tank to boil grains into wort, move mash around and breathe the wet, musty air of brewing day.

What does your brewer look like? According to an NPR piece posted two weeks ago, your brewer is probably male, caucasian and bearded.

Yes, lots of white guys with beards like to make beer. There is probably a Tumblr site somewhere called "White Guys With Beards Making Beer."

The first commercial brewers in South Florida were white men -- Matt Webster and Fran Andrewlevich at Tequesta Brewing Company -- and I'm pretty sure Matt sometimes has a beard. So our area's beer makers fit the profile NPR lamented, asking why there aren't more "people of color" in craft brewing.

I think it's too far into the 21st Century to use the phrase "people of color" seriously, but let's go with it.

Reading that story made me glad, and also kinda proud, to live in South Florida. I immediately thought of the latest development in our craft-beer climate: Wynwood Brewing Company, officially in business starting Sept. 23.

Owner Luis Brignoni is a Wynwood Puerto Rican -- the neighborhood used to be a large boricua enclave. WBC beers have names such as La Rubia blonde ale and Lupulado pale ale. And local artist Trek 6, also of Puerto Rican descent, did some of the indoor murals at the brewery.

Farther south, in the Redlands, Mauricio Mejia used to handle beer at Schnebly Winery's Miami Brewing Company. Diego Ganoza is Gravity Brewlab's brewer, and Eddie Leon owns M.I.A. Brewing Company.

I don't think it's noxious that professional brewers are mostly white men. That's representative of the type of people who are typically interested and able to go into business on their own in this field.

But living here, the statistics change. Our professional brewers are all still male, but they have more-varied backgrounds than brewers elsewhere in the U.S. And that's representative of our population.

Still, wouldn't it be nice to see a woman open a South Florida brewery, or someone not of white or Latino heritage?

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