Ottawa

Scholarship aims to mix up craft beer industry

An Ottawa brewery is hoping to challenge the perception that craft beer is just for hipster bros by offering a scholarship aimed at encouraging more diversity in the industry.

Dominion City Brewing partnering with Niagara College

Josh McJannett co-owns Dominion City Brewing in Ottawa. The brewery is offering a scholarship to graduates of Ontario's only certified craft brewing program in an attempt to improve diversity in the industry. (David Richard/CBC )

An Ottawa brewery is hoping to challenge the perception that craft beer is just for hipster bros by offering a scholarship aimed at encouraging more diversity in the industry.

Dominion City Brewing started the scholarship in conjunction with Niagara College to help graduates break into craft brewing.

It will be awarded annually to one student in the college's brewmaster program at its Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., campus from "a background presently underrepresented in the industry."

"Just having a perspective challenged by someone who sees the world a little differently than you, I know we've benefited from that," Josh McJannett, co-owner of Dominion City Brewing, told CBC Radio's All In A Day.

While McJannett himself might look like a typical craft brewer, he wants more diversity on his team and in the industry as a whole.

"If we want a strong industry a decade from now or more ... having people meaningfully involved who have new perspectives is going to be really important," McJannett said.

Ontario's only certified program

Niagara College offers a two-year brewmaster and brewery operations management program, which includes courses on everything from the "history of brewing and beer" to "filtration, carbonation and finishing."

The school is the only one in the province to offer a certified craft brewing diploma.

The scholarship targets senior students, giving them a place to perfect their brewing skills after graduation.

In addition to being passionate about craft beer, the winner has to show how receiving the scholarship will help contribute to the diversity of the brewing industry, said McJannett.

Ren Navarro says the craft beer industry has been mostly male and needs to open up to women, people of different ethnicities and the LGBT community. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Brewers were women

The point of the scholarship isn't just about getting more women into the industry, but also folks from different ethnic backgrounds, people with disabilities, and members of the LGBT community, said Ren Navarro, the creator of Beer Diversity.

The advocacy group works to improve diversity in the craft brewing industry. Navarro gave a talk about the issue to Dominion City Brewing last week.

Mesopotamian times, the original brewers were women. So why are we suddenly forgotten thousands of years later?- Ren Navarro

"You can't get a job till you have the experience, and you can't get the experience till you have a job," Navarro told CBC Radio's All In A Day.

She said the industry remains dominated by men, and it can difficult for women who brew beer to get noticed — an ironic reality, given the industry's origins.

"When you think of craft beer, you have someone in mind, and it's not a female," she said

"Back in ye olde Mesopotamian times the original brewers were women. So why are we suddenly forgotten thousands of years later?"

With files from CBC Radio's All In A Day

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