Will you join the good fight?
That’s the question being asked by Ava Nakagawa, Pink Boots Society committee member, owner of Christchurch brewery Beer Baroness, and one of three people behind the @nzbeerfam Instagram community — a safe place to share stories and strive for change in the beer industry, motivated by American brewer Brienne Allan and the global #MeToo movement in the beer industry.
The Good Fight, launched by Nakagawa in August, is a partnership between all three, with profits from a specially-brewed beer going to RespectEd Aotearoa in an attempt to prevent harm in New Zealand’s beer industry through education.
She says as a woman working in a male-dominated industry, the idea for The Good Fight has been building for a long time, but with the stories being shared with Brienne Allan and the NZ Beer Fam community, “the whole thing spontaneously combusted for me”.
“I think what became really evident really quickly, is that we need some framework within our country, and within our industry, around assault and workplace conduct,” Nakagawa says.
“I think where we actually make true change – and long term change – is through learning, understanding and education.
“And I don’t think, unfortunately, that breweries will front up for that themselves. So I was like, okay, what if we make beer?”
The Good Fight’s first beer was Brave Noise – a 4.6 per cent Pale Ale brewed as part of a global collaboration to advocate for a safe, discrimination-free beer industry.
The idea from here on is to collaborate with breweries and release a unique beer every six to eight weeks. After a couple of months’ hiatus, The Good Fight now has its first collaboration partner – Garage Project.
“I approached [brewer] Pete Gillespie pre-lockdown, and asked him if Garage Project would be interested, because I know that they don’t usually collaborate with New Zealand breweries,” Nakagawa says.
But she says it only seemed right that Garage Project be part of it, after they donated all profits from their collaboration with American brewery Tired Hands, once stories of harassment, discrimination and bullying at the brewery where revealed.
The beer, a 6 per cent hop-dipped hazy, was brewed by Gillespie and Beer Baroness’ head brewer Damien Treacher at the start of November. The artwork has been designed by GP and there’ll also be a limited canning run of it alongside the kegs.
Nakagawa says she doesn’t yet have the next collaboration partner lined up, but there is a criteria that participating breweries need to meet.
“The only real [condition] is that they need to have a history of good practices within their business, and/or have a code of conduct or want to adopt one,” she says.
Nakagawa says with the goal to provide harm minimisation education for the beer industry through RespectEd training, The Good Fight isn’t going anywhere soon.
“I think so many [beer businesses] are striving to be living wage accredited, but how cool would it be to strive to be RespectEd trained?” she asks.
“That’s big dream stuff.”
Nakagawa says once The Good Fight has made a difference in that space, the brand will look to shift its focus elsewhere, with sleep and mental health the top contenders for the next project.