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Next Glass Team Reflects on 2021
As 2021 nears its end, the team here at Next Glass, which includes our Untappd, Hop Culture, BeerAdvocate, Oznr, Ollie and FermentAble brands, are reflecting on some of the achievements and milestones we are most proud of this year.
This year saw Untappd reach its one billionth check-in, just a few months after celebrating its 10th anniversary in late-2020. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Untappd users supported their local breweries by purchasing beer to-go and checking-in through the Untappd at Home venue. Throughout the year, Untappd partnered with the Brewers Association to promote craft beer, including November’s Small Brewery Sunday, issuing a call to action to support local breweries alongside other local businesses. More than one million impressions were generated across the entire Next Glass ecosystem, helping spread the word about this important campaign.
We welcomed Angela Cearns, CEO of TrueTwins, a blockchain-based authentication platform, to our Board of Directors. Angela brings deep e-commerce experience across several verticals, including the food and beverage industry. Read more about Angela’s appointment to the Next Glass Board here.
During 2021, our LIVE! team had the opportunity to partner with some incredible sponsors to produce festivals and events. While we had to shift many events from in-person to virtual, we still produced several exciting festivals, including Beer Advocate’s Extreme Beer Fest presented by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, and Hop Culture’s fourth annual Beers With(out) Beards presented by Yeti. Over the past four years, this celebration of women in beer has grown to attract thousands of attendees and showcase over sixty women-led breweries. We were honored to listen to the keynote conversation delivered by Mariah Calagione, and if you missed it, no worries! You can still check it out on our YouTube channel – you’ll be glad you did!
And while COVID-19 interfered with our original plans, we were still thrilled to hold Hop Culture’s inaugural Queer Beer Festival, presented by Sam Adams, virtually.
Queer Beer aims to capture the unique, vibrant, diverse, and thriving voices of the queer community in the industry. There were so many highlights during this festival, it’s hard to recount them all. Panels included “How to be an LGBTQ+ Leader in Craft Beer” and “Authenticity in Queer Spaces in Craft Beer.” If you didn’t get a chance to check out the programming, you can catch the entire event here. Please don’t miss the keynote delivered by Ren Navarro, Founder of Beer Diversity, we invite you to check it out and promise you will be inspired.
For Untappd, an important Untappd milestone was holding the community’s first in-person beer festival since the pandemic paused live events. Held at San Diego’s Petco Park, the Untappd Beer Festival saw more than 7,000 attendees enjoy conversations, connections, and incredible beer from around the country.
The amount of work that goes into putting together an event of this size and scale is tremendous, especially as attendee safety takes center stage. In addition to COVID-19 precautions, the Next Glass family of brands recently introduced enhanced safety measures built around an improved Next Glass Festival Code of Conduct, which was inspired by discussions of the many reports of sexual harassment and misconduct in the industry. This Code of Conduct will be an important staple of all future BeerAdvocate, Hop Culture, and Untappd festivals and will help ensure a safe and inclusive environment for all attendees and participating brewery staff members.
The implementation of Next Glass’s new Code of Conduct included #NotMe, a resolution-seeking reporting platform for those who’ve experienced or witnessed racism, harassment, or any type of discrimination or misconduct.
Working with input from industry stakeholders, the Next Glass events team researched best practices, vetted reporting vendors, identified gaps, built reporting infrastructure, trained staff, and integrated with venue security. This Code of Conduct is a natural extension of the work that has been done -- and continues to be done -- on inclusion and safety by employees of all Next Glass brands.
“As an all female identifying team who has been affected by sexism and misogyny ourselves, influencing change is something we take very seriously,” said Talia Spera, Vice President of Festivals & Live Events. “Every day we continue to prioritize ensuring a safe and inclusive festival experience. Sadly, misogyny, bias, discrimination, racism and harassment is still found in our industry, so there’s more to do. The team at Next Glass will continue to work together with industry and community stakeholders in 2022 to do our part in positively impacting the industry culture.”
Looking forward to 2022, the team continues to expand upon the Code of Conduct ahead of what is turning out to be an incredible festival lineup. These improvements include festival staff training as well as an enhanced vetting process and participation criteria.
The Next Glass commitment to diversity, inclusion and community service extends beyond festivals and events. Throughout 2021 we were able to work with and support some truly incredible organizations.
“At Hop Culture, it’s important to us that we’re creating the type of beer community in which we want to participate,” says Hop Culture founder and Next Glass Creative Director Kenny Gould. “Last year, we worked with Brewers Association Equity and Inclusion Partner Dr. J Jackson-Beckham to help codify our mission and values, and those are things we continue to discuss internally.”
As part of our 2021 festivals, Next Glass companies made donations supporting ALES for ALS, the Pink Boots Society, the Transgender Law Center, Wildlife Waystation, the pediatric abdominal transplant unit at the UPMC Children’s Hospital, and the Last Prisoner Project, among others. Additionally, our CEO, Trace Smith, personally matched all employee donations to 100 Black Men of America, Black Girls Code, and the It Gets Better Project, continuing financial commitments he and Next Glass made in 2020 to those organizations.
“Our team at Next Glass has prided itself on our philanthropic commitments and corporate social responsibility efforts,” said Trace Smith, CEO of Next Glass. “Our brands each have a long history of rallying their respective audiences to support causes committed to bettering both the bev-alc and tech industries. We will continue to commit resources - both time and money - to driving continued change.”
That work includes working on a local level. In the past, Next Glass has supported workplace training initiatives in the Wilmington area, home to one of Next Glass’s offices, including the TRU Colors training program. This program was designed to give gang members an opportunity to develop professional workforce skills. This year, we were also happy to have sponsored an intern in collaboration with Beer Kulture -- our inaugural intern spent eight weeks with the Next Glass team getting hands-on experience and mentorship. This past summer, Untappd provided a full tuition scholarship to Appalachian State’s Summer Brewing Short Course to an individual who otherwise might not have had the opportunity to attend. Hop Culture’s Grace Weitz asked 20 questions of the recipient of the scholarship and wrote about it here!
And, lastly, Next Glass’s Marketing department is helping to provide opportunities in partnership with COOP Careers, a program designed to overcome underemployment amongst the BIPOC community by providing career and networking opportunities in marketing. If you are a business looking to hire marketing staff, please check out the link below in our resources section.
As 2021 comes to a close, we know we’re not done. We recognize that effecting real change is an ongoing journey, and in 2022 we’ll continue to work with others in the industry and our community to productively explore ways to put our values into action both in our day-to-day work and in the festivals and events we produce.
For those interested in learning more about the magnificent organizations Next Glass has partnered with and/or supported philanthropically, please check out the following resources: