A Guelph event is shining a light on the ideas, stories, and issues facing women in the craft beer industry.

Wellington Brewery's annual Queen of Craft series brings women together Fridays in the month of March to learn, talk and exchange ideas about craft beer.

Despite enthusiasm and interest from many women, Queen of Craft founder Karyn Boscarial noticed that the industry remained largely male-dominated.

"That's why we created Queen of Craft," she told The Morning Edition's Colin Butler. "To create a really safe, fun venue for women to teach women all about beer and for it to feel non-threatening and something that was really accessible to women."

Issues and roles

Boscariol says an issue under discussion is what she calls women in beer media: how they are represented in beer branding, advertising and packaging.

"Historically, women have been portrayed in beer media as [just] something to look at, something to sell beer," she said.

Although there is still a long way to go, she did acknowledge some change in recent times.

"We're looking at a paradigm shift where women are now becoming participants in beer," she said. "[The] craft beer industry is booming and almost 40 per cent of all craft beer breweries are run by women or employed by women."

Race in beer

Also on the agenda is the topic of diversity in the craft beer industry.

"There isn't a lot in craft beer that really identifies with race," said Ren Navarro, territory manager at Descendants Beer & Beverage Co.

For one thing, she said, there is hardly any advertising that is geared toward or reflective of visible minority groups.

She pointed out that where beer labels were modelled after people of color, for example, the labels were often of animals.

"If I know that this is a beer that has a black person giving their input, why can't I see a black person on the cover of this label?" she said.

The types of jobs in the industry that are being done by visible minority groups also points to the diversity problem. According to Navarro, they often work the factory line or as assistant brewers, as opposed to more visible or prominent brewery positions. 

"What I've seen is that there are a lot of people of colour hidden in the back," she said, pointing out that she is currently the only black female craft beer sales representative in Ontario.

The Queen of Craft series also acts as a fundraising event: proceeds raised at the sessions are donated to Guelph-Wellington Women-In-Crisis.