Brewing students at Niagara College hopped up for equality and diversity ‘bevoltion’


Published February 22, 2022 at 2:19 pm

Niagara College's brewmaster students are joined by Ren Navarro, founder of Beer. Diversity, fourth from right, for Brave Noise Collab Brew Day at the Teaching Brewery. (Photo: Niagara College)

Count the young brewing students at Niagara College’s Teaching Brewery among many others who are filling their kettles with an eye to equality.

With craft beer long considered a white male territory – primarily because it was and in some cases, still is – the move to build longer tables that can happily seat both genders, all orientations and races is steadily gaining momentum.

Inclusion for all is the vision that the industry should be aiming towards and the college’s young brewers showed their support by brewing Brave Noise Pale Ale, a global initiative aimed at making the beer industry safe and free from discrimination for women, BIPOC, and LGBTQIA+ people.

On February 18, the college brewers began filling the vats with their version and along for inspiration and guidance was nationally-known Ren Navarro, their collaborator and founder of Beer Diversity, a consulting company that advocates for diversity in the beverage industry.

“I’m thrilled to see Niagara College participating in a collab that is all about accountability and values statements,” said Navarro. “Brave Noise is about standing up to make positive changes within the brewing industry and I’m excited to see what this group of brewery students will bring to the table.”

Equally excited was co-founder of Brave Noise and “Women of the Bevolution” Ash Eliot who said Niagara College is the only educational facility that joined the Brave Noise movement.

“This is exactly where the conversation around creating ethical workplaces should start – early on during the educational process,” said Eliot.

“By having Niagara College students involved in the Brave Noise collab and initiative, this is such a huge opportunity to build a better and safer beer world with these aspiring brewers and future brewing industry professionals. We look forward to them being part of the collab and we hope to see more colleges follow their lead.”

Within the brewery program itself, it was fourth-term student Angela McCallum who took up the mantle. After doublechecking the college’s code of conduct for students, she realized that its progressive approach towards relevant charities and initiatives not only allowed for it but gave them a foothold to make a statement of their own.

“The promotion of safe and inclusive workplaces and equality within the craft beer industry is critically important. If our involvement can make even a small impact, it’s absolutely worth it,” said McCallum, who coordinated the College’s involvement in the initiative.

“It’s important for brewers to acknowledge these issues as early in their career as possible, so it makes sense for us to learn about and get involved with Brave Noise while we’re still students.”

Suffice it to say, her classmate were on board because of 13 fourth-term students, three are female, seven are men of colour, and multiple identify as LGBTQ+. McCallum said the initiative also gained support from faculty and administrators.

“As students, we are very lucky to have support at NC,” added McCallum. “It was a great experience, as a class, to learn how to become advocates. It gives us the confidence to use our voices and our power to speak out and make a difference.”

Niagara College’s Brave Noise Collaboration Pale Ale will be released in mid-March. Brewmaster students will be dedicating the Brave Noise beer to one of their former classmates who left the program last term to focus on her transition journey.

Ash Eliot, left, co-founder of Brave Noise and “Women of the Bevolution” was happy to say Niagara College’s Teaching Brewery was the first educational institution to join the initiative while Beer Diversity founder Ren Navarro, right, was actually on hand with the students when they created the beer on February 10 as a mentor and collaborator.

insauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising