Well, what a year.

When I launched The Queer Brewing Project at the end of April this year—a time that already feels impossibly far away—I couldn’t possibly imagine that the project would come so far in a matter of 8 (eight!) months. If you’ll allow me the indulgence, I’d like to take a moment to look at everything that’s happened in that short period of time, to recognise everyone who’s made it possible, and to take a look at what’s going on next year.

April saw the launch of Queer Royale, the project’s first collaboration; an oh-so-juicy blackcurrant pale ale brewed with Affinity Brew Co. The aim was to generate a huge buzz about the beer and get people talking about the project, and it worked: this beer poured at over 40 different venues on the launch night, and the excitement on social media was more than I could have hoped for.

The summer saw collaborations with Goose Island Brewpub Shoreditch, Northern Monk, Brick, Denmark’s People Like Us, Beatnikz Republic, and Florida’s 7venth Sun. Interestingly, all of these collaborations proved how geared towards seasonality my brewing mind is: each of these beers were light, easy drinking, and fruit forward—with the exception of the Brick collaboration Preferred Pronouns, each beer was fruited in some way.

In the autumn, I brewed with Austmann in Norway, and then Brewery Bhavana, Fifth Hammer, Big Rip, 2nd Shift, New Belgium, and Our Mutual Friend over in the US, in what was the most epic trip of my life. Not long after my return, I headed up to Saltaire to brew with Salt Beer Factory (FYI, Flavortown is still available!).

The past couple of months have seen a slightly less busy collaboration period, with one brew apiece in November and December, with Sean Ayling at Tom’s Tap and Brewhouse, and Mills Brewing in my home county.

Since the start of the project, I’ve brewed 17 collabs, just shy of two a month (which is double my initial target of 1 brew a month). Some of those beers are yet to be released, with three sitting happily in various barrels. Some sold out quickly, and were rebrewed, and some stuck around for a little longer. Some found their way across Europe (being tagged in Instagram posts by excited people drinking Queer Brewing beers in numerous other countries is truly one of the best feelings), and a few were poured only on site.

All of the beers meant a great deal: the space that these queer beers have taken up is considerable; the visible representation they (and the collaborations themselves) have provided is important; the money donated is both greatly need and hugely appreciated by the beneficiaries; and the response has been staggering. The messages of support the project has received, both from allies and people from the community it aims to support, and the visible support in the form of people wearing merch across the world, and photos of people loving the beers, has been nothing short of mindblowing. I can’t describe what it means to me.

At the time of writing, 6 of the 17 beers have raised roughly £5,600 for various charities—those are only the collaborations from which the proceeds have been donated. 11 beers are yet to be totted up. With a good number of collaborations already lined up for next year, my target for total donations in the first year of operation is £30,000, but I’m hoping to exceed that.

Speaking of next year: what’s next? Well, I’m looking to bring more people into the Queer Brewing fold (and increase the number of team members from one to, well, more than one). I’ll be thinking on strategy and talking to some knowledgeable folks early in 2020. I want to get more people involved in the brewing itself, to provide an opportunity for those interested in getting their hands dirty, and to see the inner workings of a brewery. I want to hold more events (including a big birthday party!), to further increase the reach of the project. I’ll also be attending Queer Brewing’s first ever festival: People Like Us’ Social Revolution By Beer festival, in Copenhagen. I’d also love to hear suggestions for where you want the project to go, or what you’d like to see it do—whether that be collab suggestions, merch ideas, or anything else. Let me know.

None of this could be achieved, however, without the support of so many people. I’d like to thank all of the Patreon supporters, without whom the project, quite literally, couldn’t exist: Gautam Bhatnagar; The Twelve Taps; Peter Burger; Jolly Good Beer; Rachel Thomas; Amber Dernulc; Bob Preece; Michelle Midwinter; Edwin Methu; Joe Hillyard; Edward Sharman; Timo Laak; Elisa Walsh; Hannah Davidson; Dani Neal; Tina Ambury; Charlotte Cook; Sarah Harding; Daniel Barrowcliffe; Andrew Clarke; Melissa Cole; Steve Rimington; Weiyu Chen; Bethany Baker; Chris Ward; Jon; Doreen Barber; Claire Bullen; Katy Holliday; Grace Robson; Matthew Curtis; Lewis Husbands; Ruvani de Silva; Katie Mather; Merlin Ward; Dianne Tanner; Nicci Peet; David Holden; Chris Norman; Logan Rockmore; Kaleigh Watterson; Philth D; Sarah Dunn; Sarah Wetherbee; Megan Armstrong; and Ewan Munro.

I’d like to thank each and every brewery I’ve worked with, for taking a risk, brewing some frankly delicious beer, and for donating to so many incredibly important causes. I’d like to thank all of my friends and industry peers who’ve offered support, an ear to bend, or encouragement—this year has been filled with anxiety, worry, and imposter syndrome, and your words kept the good ship Queer Brewing on a straight (lol) course. I’d like to thank my parents for their support and encouragement, even if a few of the beers weren’t quite to their taste, and my patient and long-suffering partner, Charlotte. Sorry about all the merch literally everywhere. Finally, thanks to everyone who’s poured or served beer, bought a pint or a can, or proudly worn merch. You’re amazing.

Here’s to next year!

Lily Waite

Founder of The Queer Brewing Project.


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