Good Robot Brewing Co.

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By in Queers & Beers Comments Off on Pissing in Bars | The importance of single-stall bathrooms

Pissing in Bars | The importance of single-stall bathrooms

Why do we want single-stall bathrooms?

I believe that if you serve people beverages that make them have to piss, make them more emotional, randy or contemplative (i.e. beer) and you intend for your guests to be around your bar for a few hours, you have a responsibility to ensure they can use your bathrooms in a comfortable, safe way. And in whatever way they need to. And as many times as they need to without waiting in an ungodly line up.

There’s a lot in there, I know. But bathroom needs are serious, immediate needs. And bathrooms aren’t just used to evacuate fluids. They’re used for phone calls, surfing Facebook when you need a breather from your pals or date, making out with someone(s) for a hot minute that’s just a toe over the line of “too much time in the bathroom shit there’s people waiting” and of course ripping farts and standing there while it airs out. There are more things. Mostly all private things you don’t want to do in front of other people.

Georgie Dudka, Good Robot Brewing Company's Events Director in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Cool person, Georgie and Sam (Offsite Events) being fresh.

Most of these things are impossible to do in a multi-stall, typical bathroom. There’s an extra wrench that gets thrown into it for me when I’m greeted with gendered, multi-stall bathrooms. Which is mostly. This doesn’t impact everyone the same way but I’m going to focus on me for a minute here.

Hi Halifax, I’m Georgie, I’m 31, I’m transgender. I use gender-neutral or male pronouns where applicable, and when I go into a bar and I’m faced with gendered, multi-stall bathrooms, I immediately become uncomfortable and uneasy and want to leave the establishment. I mean, physically/presentation-wise I look very masculine but using this type of bathroom is not ideal for me.

Reasons multi-stall bathrooms suck for transgender folks

Reasons it sucks in the Men’s bathroom for me:

  • I piss sitting down and people can tell because my boots aren’t facing the toilet.
  • If they don’t think about the latter too hard they then hear the toilet paper being pulled and there’s definitely a lightbulb moment for some people.
  • I know people notice in the men’s bathroom – because sometimes they eye me up and down when I leave the stall. And it makes me feel gross inside, even though I’m turbo attractive and even if that’s not the intention of the person eyeing me.
  • Also men’s bathrooms inevitably smell like dank piss.

Reasons it sucks in the Women’s bathroom for me:

  • I present very masculine and most women freak out (obv) if I go into the bathroom (so I don’t anymore ever!)
  • In moments while I was beginning to transition, I would still use the women’s bathroom as it was more comfortable for me, and I would feel horrible when people would tell me “you don’t belong here”. Not because I cared I didn’t belong – I did belong and didn’t at the same time and who cares. But I was causing obvious discomfort for the women in the space. And it weighed on me. And it seemed hard and/or unnecessary to explain. And I started holding my pee too frequently and dreading public bathroom use.
BetaBrew FemmeBot Homebrew Competition | Kelly Costello, Georgie Dudka

Kelly, Georgie and cool person brewing a BetaBrew.

From my personal POV based on my identities, there’s this paranoia that goes along with someone “finding out” that I don’t own a penis in men’s multi-stall bathroom situations that creates an unnecessarily jolting experience regardless of how it’s perceived by the other folks in the bathroom. I just get nervous of potential aggression, which has happened in my past and will continue to I’m sure. So when I walk into local bars and taprooms that don’t offer me a comfortable and safe place to piss, I generally leave. Solidarity to trans and non-binary people in these situations, because there are common feelings and consequences for us in bathrooms that other people don’t have to go through.

There are caveats to my bathroom feelings, obviously. For me they are businesses/bars I know very well and have a great relationship with. Like Charlie’s on Maynard! I know the staff so well that I feel very protected there regardless of the gendered bathroom situation. I also acknowledge that staff are not responsible for engineering and building bathrooms. So, you know, support the places and people that support you.

Need-wise, I’m also one of the people that make out in bathrooms, or need a spot to hide on my phone away from my pals. I’m not the person that broke your bar’s bathroom sink though. Because not all people that make out in bathrooms break them, that’s a shitty myth.

What can businesses do?

From a business perspective, if you own a business, I challenge you to consider how many people may feel uncomfortable in the establishment because they can’t piss or cry or poop or make out comfortably. I’ve walked from many a bar I was having a decent time at because I had no access to privacy or my own particular needs around bathroom safety. I do believe that private, single-stall bathrooms are becoming one of the most important fundamental services you can offer someone in a bar for a variety of reasons.

I also understand that for many places – we can’t go back in time and just create single-stall bathrooms. Occupancy for a bar (or any building) is built on both square footage and availability of “male” and “female” bathrooms. And for bars that have been around awhile, there can’t be a sudden expectation to just allocate a budget to bathroom renovations that don’t technically need to happen. That could be too much for a small business to undertake. Though, if you do renovate, you can always pull a Local and go turbo by making your bathrooms multi-single-gender-neutral stalls by walling them in and installing doors that run to the floor. We don’t need to be fancy about it, folks just need to use the space privately.

Katie Whitlock and Georgie Dudka at Good Robot Brewing Company in Halifax.

Katie (Onsite Events) and Georgie.

What I would really like to see are NEW bars that open supporting trans and non-binary folks by designing gender-neutral, single-stall bathrooms. Then, simultaneously, you support people who need a place to have some immediate privacy (pooping, crying, farting, etc.) in order to continue having a good time later. And really, you can never underrate pooping in private, single-stall bathrooms versus pooping in a multi-stall room.

From safety issues for some folks, to comfort and privacy for others – gender neutral, single-stall bathrooms are a great way to show care for people (and let people care for themselves) in a bar or taproom. And while we’re at it! If you see folks in a bathroom who you think “don’t belong there”, remember: It’s truly not your concern, ever, where other people use the bathroom, unless it’s on your floor.

FAQ on gender neutral, single-stall bathrooms

Question: But, Georgie, What about people that don’t understand gender neutral/single-stall bathrooms? How do we explain?

Answer: Gender neutral bathrooms do confuse some people though usually just initially. For most who are new to it, it’s easy to explain.

Try:

  • “They all have locking doors and are separate rooms, so take your pick!”
  • “You can use the bathroom for anything – they’re clean and private if you need a spot for a phone call or what have you”
  • “Your bathroom at home is single-stall and gender neutral, it’s the same here!”
Georgie Dudka, Events Director at Good Robot, Halifax's most questionable craft brewery.

Georgie just killin’ it.

Other folks have a harder time with the principle, so if they become persistent (which some do, “but WHICH bathroom is for MEN”), I like to answer with oddness, confidence and mystery.

Try:

  • “Oh right, sorry for not telling you earlier, men can only pee on the right side of the bathroom or the bar poltergeist starts flushing all the toilets at once and slamming the doors which immediately makes all the customers uneasy obv. Not your fault of course, we’re fine, we’re used to it here, it’s just our manager has to go through this really arduous ritual afterwards” and then slowly shrug.
  • “I just stand in the entrance and smell all the stalls one by one, that’s how I pick”

Question: What if there are already single-stall bathrooms in the bar BUT they are separated and gendered? How do I fix this?

Answer: Change the signs on the door, bam!

Question: How would people know they are actually bathrooms without pictures of cartoon stick people on the door?

Answer: Put a picture of the international sign for toilets on the door: A toilet

Question: Since you just said all this shit, does Good Robot have gender neutral, single-stall bathrooms that I can make out and/or cry and/or go on IG and/or poop in?

Answer: 100%

Got more? All your gender-neutral, single-stall bathroom questions answered by e-mailing [email protected]

_____

Georgie Dudka is Good Robot Brewing’s Events Director.

By in Brewing, Brewing, Women in Brewing Comments Off on Women in Brewing | Musings from a Woman in Brewing

Women in Brewing | Musings from a Woman in Brewing

If I’m honest, whenever I am asked to do an interview, or give my perspective or opinion on the “issue” of women in brewing, my response invariably begins with a sigh. In fact, I probably sighed when Josh asked me to write this blog post. I sigh because I hate that it’s an “issue”. I sigh because I don’t have all the answers. I sigh because really, there is nothing about brewing or serving craft beer that should make it a male dominated industry. And most of all I sigh because it makes me a little bit sad that in 2018 we are still talking about gender equality. For a long time after I became a brewer and brewery owner in 2013, my standard response to these requests was along the lines of “why does anyone care what sex I am, as long as my beer is good?”. I didn’t want to talk about it, because I felt like talking about it validated the perspective that it was an “issue”. And I didn’t want it to be.

FemmeBot Homebrew Competition | Emily Tipton & Henry Pedro of Boxing Rock Brewing

Emily Tipton & Henry Pedro, owners of Boxing Rock Brewing Company.

When I was about 6, my father went away on a business trip and came back with a pink t-shirt for me. On the front was a rainbow, and the words “Anything boys can do…girls can do better”. I’m sure he has no idea how that t-shirt shaped my view of the world, but those words served me well as I pursued a career in engineering, and later as a brewer and entrepreneur. Because of my experiences as an engineer who did a lot of field work in the oil and gas industry, I am used to being the only woman in the room or around the table in a meeting. I am used to having to prove myself as equal rather than it being assumed. I am not fazed by being a woman in a man’s world, in fact I probably prefer it by now. But I know that’s not necessarily the way all women feel, and I know from experience that gender and power dynamics can be frustrating, frightening and extremely tricky.

Meg Brennan (Garrison Brewing), Rebecca Atkinson (Sober Island Brewing), Laura MacDonald (Stillwell) & Kelly Costello (Good Robot Brewing) at a 902 Brewcast podcast on Women in the Beer Industry.

Meg Brennan (Garrison Brewing), Rebecca Atkinson (Sober Island Brewing), Laura MacDonald (Stillwell) & Kelly Costello (Good Robot Brewing) at a 902 Brewcast podcast on Women in the Beer Industry.

As the years have passed I have come to realize that my position as co-owner and brewer at Boxing Rock has likely made things a little bit different for me than many women in brewing industry. I have the luxury of dismissing those that don’t respect me, and of standing up to those who objectify or insult my feminine side. As a brewery owner, I no longer fear repercussions to my career or livelihood. I also know the man who I started this business with sees me as his equal, respects me and will support any defense I mount of my gender and position. The more time I spend in this industry though, the more experiences I have or hear about that disturb me. I’ve had suppliers and customers express surprise and disbelief that a woman owns a brewery…and brews beer. I’ve had suppliers make inappropriate comments or suggestions. I’ve heard stories about female staff at breweries being physically and verbally assaulted by customers and even by colleagues from our industry. I’ve seen beer names and labels that objectify women. I’ve had all manner of inappropriate things said to me when I’m anonymously pouring beer at beer festivals. So yes, I will grudgingly admit, there is an “issue.” But what do we do about it?

Kelly Costello & Dina Lobo, a non-drinker, brew a dark saison.

I’ve been grappling with the answer to that question for a few years now, both as a woman in the industry and as the President of the Craft Brewers Association of Nova Scotia (CBANS). I am proud that CBANS made a motion at our AGM in June 2017 that encourages members to “uphold the fundamental principles of inclusiveness and equality to all in our day to day activities”, and to “pledge zero tolerance of discrimination in marketing practices”. I think as an industry association this is a great place to start. By making this motion we as an industry said we are willing to talk about this issue, explore it and debate it. It is important to start the conversation, because if we don’t talk about it within the industry, the assumption is that the status quo is OK. And it isn’t. If you have the appetite for a full exploration of sexism in beer marketing, and how it feels to be a woman in this industry, this piece is a pretty thorough look from this time last year. And CBANS got a mention in a follow-up piece from the same blog last summer.

Shelby Peters at Boxing Rock Brewing in Nova Scotia.

Shelby Peters, Boxing Rock’s first employee.

The next part of my answer is that I want all the men who love craft beer, and who think women are their equals to stand up and say so. If you see a man treating a woman in a way you think is wrong, don’t look the other way, don’t be a silent bystander, say something. And then tweet about it: #HowIWillChange. Because one thing I know from experience is that nothing changes for a man who doesn’t respect women and our contribution to the world of craft beer if he is called out by the woman he doesn’t respect. But I believe a whole lot can change if another man tells him that what he is doing or saying isn’t right.

Alewife’s Revenge Brew Day with Ladies Beer League at Boxing Rock Brewing in Shelburne, Nova Scotia.

Alewife’s Revenge Brew Day with Ladies Beer League at Boxing Rock.

The truth is, there are no easy answers. Everyone has a different perspective of what is right and wrong when it comes to power and gender and equality. But we can only move forward as a society if we are diligent about questioning our assumptions and being open to other points of view. It might seem like I am calling on men to come to our rescue, but I can assure you I am no damsel in distress. I am calling on men who love and respect women and the craft beer we brew, pour and serve to stand beside us as equals, to have hard conversations with women and other men, and to join us in challenging the craft beer industry in Nova Scotia to be a safe and inviting place for everyone.

Emily Tipton brewing a craft beer at Boxing Rock Brewing Company in Shelburne, Nova Scotia.

Emily brewing and being a bad-ass.

Cheers.
Emily
Co-owner of Boxing Rock Brewing

By in Beer News, Brewing Comments Off on Insane in the Spent Grain: Barley Shortage

Insane in the Spent Grain: Barley Shortage

Beer, as we know it, may be in danger.

We frequently hear of hops shortages, though rarely does one hear of an equally important problem: malted (roasted) barley shortage. While demand currently fits supply, within a decade, supply could be problematic.

How did this happen?

CLIMATE


In the past 135 years of global temperature data, 4 of the 5 hottest months on record all happened in 2015. Near-droughts, excessive rain and weather fluctuations yielded poorer quality crops in 2013 and 2014.

AMERICAN BREWERIES

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As poor as the Canadian crops were, the American crops suffered even worse. By virtue of NAFTA, tariffs on Canadian malt were eliminated and American breweries began purchasing Canadian crops without restraint.

BEEF

good robot brewing company halifax nova scotia craft brewery microbrewery north end beer taproom

Most barley is produced to feed cattle. Canadian beef production is down. Mad cow disease continues to hurt Canadian beef export. In addition, an increasing number of citizens are eating healthier and sustainably by reducing or eliminating red meat from their diets.

GMOs

good robot brewing company halifax nova scotia craft brewery microbrewery north end beer taproom

Barley for beef feed is competing with soybeans, canola and corn, all genetically modified crops with better resilience, production and pricing than barley. Monsanto Company invested $10M over 10 years for short-season corn in Alberta, destroying barley competition in Canada’s biggest barley province.

CRAFT BEER

good robot brewing company halifax nova scotia craft brewery microbrewery north end beer taproom

Macrobreweries tend to use alternatives to malt, such as corn and rice, to cheapen production. Popular macro beers also tend to be lighter and lower in alcohol. Therefore, craft breweries use, on average, 4x the amount of malt per unit volume than macrobreweries, creating a higher demand on barley.

THE FUTURE OF BEER

good robot brewing company halifax nova scotia craft brewery microbrewery north end beer taproom

In the next 10 years, we have 180k metric tonnes of malting capacity under build. Projections show we’ll need 1M metric tonnes (Canada Malting Group Annual Presentation, Halifax, 2015). Canada will begin importing European and Australian malt sooner than later, though the incoming El Niño cycle will likely yield a very harsh winter in Europe and hotter and drier conditions in Australia. Expect wheat beers to gain prominence since wheat is more resilient than barley and GMO wheat will likely enter the commercial market soon. Brewers may also begin experimenting more with sugary alternatives to barley, like sorghum, millet, rice, corn, quinoa, spelt, oats, and rye.

But, you know, the picture isn’t that bleak. We adapt. We’ll always find a way to get buzzed. Ever had prison hooch with rotted fruits fermented in a sock?

By in Brewing, Construction, Finance, Friends 4

Leaves Must Fall Down: Bucks, Suds and Buds

Hi folks,

HOLY SHIT!!! We’ve got money, recipes and connections! Where can I even begin this blog post? How about with another excited outburst? MY GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY!!!

Sean (lawyer) drafting the Shareholder Agreement

Sean laying down the law.

 Now, I know you folks are dying to read about the regulations and provisions of our constitutional documents, so let’s talk turkey. We wouldn’t be here without the ever-scrupulous eyes of Marcel, our accountant, and Sean, our lawyer (pictured above). This guy is a wonder to behold. I almost want our company to get sued just to see him in action. Over the span of several months and one particularly gruelling eight-hour meeting, we covered everything one could hope to cover in corporate legalities. What happens if one of us dies? Gets sick? Switches professions? Falls in the woods and nobody’s around to hear? Even lighthearted banter is up for linguistic dissection. Take Sean’s favourite joke, for example: “A rabbi, a priest and a monk walk into a bar – WHEREAS

  1. Each of the parties hereto (also referred to as the “Subjects”) collectively are the subjects of the JOKE herein.
  2. The Bar (also referred to as the “Business”) carries on the business of a public house and related commercial activity.
  3. The Bar, to the fullest extent of its corporate capacity, has agreed to become a party to this JOKE agreed upon herein by the terms of this JOKE as they relate to the matters within its control.
  4. The aforementioned Subjects are presently all the Subjects in the Bar.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF the Parties hereto have executed this JOKE as of the day and year first above written.”

 Classic Sean. 

Mark, our BDC Account Manager, finalizing our equipment loan

Clearly a staged photo. That’s not even real paper.

With our shareholder money in place, the banks began dispersing their funds. Above, you’ll see our BDC Account Manager, Mark. He has been a gem throughout this process, which began in August 2012 and finished, in signature, on December 3, 2014. BDC is an amazing resource not only for funding, but planning and execution. They critiqued our business plan, marketing strategy, distribution tactics and general hygiene. The only real humps were proving to BDC that: 1) we are not a bar, which they do not finance (in Mark’s honour, we are considering naming the taproom the “Definitely Not A Bar Taproom”); and 2) Angus’ mother is not a crack dealer from Edmonton, as the background check indicated. No joke. Once BDC processed the brewing equipment financing loan, our Credit Union Atlantic rep, Krista – a sharp cookie – finalized our taproom renovations financing loan. We’re in the money. 

Doug, our brewer, checking the specific gravity of the wort

From college to career, Dixie cups have served us well.

Of course, what good is money without beer? After tweaking old recipes for months, we’ve finalized about five styles that we believe are ready for public consumption:

  • a hoppy, citrusy summer ale perfect for co-ed softball;
  • a dark, coffee- and chocolate-infused breakfast stout perfect for pancakes;
  • a hybrid ale-lager “steam” beer with a toffee nose and bitter end;
  • a salty, citrusy and wheaty gose made with brackish water; and
  • a warming, banana-heavy German weizenbock with big American hops. 
WIBC Brewery Layout - HVAC - Renovations

Our HVAC floor plan for the warehouse. Who says MS Paint is archaic?

 Of course, what’s a beer without a brewery? With Angus’ background in construction engineering and my background in exploiting Angus’ background, we designed and drafted our own floor plans. Working with Glen of Halifax Permitting, we completed our package and received our construction permits in early December. Angus has since been contracting out the work to tradesfolk and, in some instances, getting his hands dirty.   

Fire-rated ceiling coating

Since we live above the brewery, we had to apply a fire-protective epoxy coating to the partition. Apparently, a liability letter indicating we were okay to accept the risk of burning to death should the warehouse catch fire was unacceptable.

 Of course, what’s a brewery without people? The greatest satisfaction of the past few months has come from all the personal and professional connections we’ve made. Alexander Henden of Local Connections Halifax invited us to showcase our beer at both his 12 Beers of Christmas holiday party and the Craft Beer and Local Food Celebration in January, which will mark Wrought Iron’s official public debut. Lindsay, Pam and Tracy of Ladies Beer League have drank, donated and danced their way into our hearts. Every time we run into Todd “The Beer Dude” Beal of Maritime Beer Report, we feel as if we just slipped into a bathtub that is just the right temperature. Another blogger, Chris McDonald of Atlantic Canada Beer Blog, invited us to our first meeting with the Brewnosers, a group of beer and homebrew enthusiasts. These dudes really know their beer and Doug and I were nervous heading in, but they were gracious, welcoming and, uh, candid with their feedback. Chris also shared one of the most interesting beer styles I’ve ever tried: a light, sour and smoky beer known as a “grätzer”. The sourness pairs nicely with Chris’ sweet disposition.

Canada Malting Group event - Garrison, Sea Level

Canada Malting Group event.

 Perhaps most amazing about the community is the support from other brewers, people who, by all rights, should be stomping on us. John, Josh, Andrew and Mike of Propeller Brewery hosted an awesome party at their place, including a private tour and wine barrel sniffing with Chris of Stillwell. Brian, Kellye (pictured above, second from left), Alex and the rest of the team at Garrison Brewing have been generous with their business advice and bourbon cocktails, while their head brewer, Daniel, has the most infectious laugh in the city. Kevin of Granite Brewery offered a spot in Craft Beer Week and a hit of his e-cigarette. Emily of Boxing Rock welcomed us into the Nova Scotia Craft Brewers Association with open hearts and livers. Jeff of Bad Apple Brewhouse, Greg Nash, and Hans of Jost Vineyards and Tatamagouche Brewing Co. have contributed construction tips and commiserated about legislation woes. We shared many laughs with Randy and his wife, Kathy, of Sea Level Brewing, who are pictured above dead-centre. Jake of (Rockbottom Brew Pub) gave us perhaps the funniest brewing advice to date: your beer doesn’t have to be consistent, just good. Lorne “Lefty” Romano (pictured below) of Rogues Roost always pops by to share tales, ales and Cuban cigars, as well as to bust our balls about hop additions. I’ve previously sung the praises of Don (Barnone Brewing) and Jeremy (Big Spruce Brewing) who continue to aid us and others. The list goes on and on, and there are still many brewers and reps we’re looking forward to meeting.

Josh, Lorne Romano (Rogue's Roost) and Doug brewing.

Brewing up trouble. And wort.

 One relationship worth mentioning as a send-off here is that of me and the boys. Countless people warned me not to open a brewery with my friends and the last six months have been the most trying of my life. It’s difficult to separate business from pleasure, especially when the business is beer, and the boys and I have undergone everything from simple disagreements to damn-near physical altercations. And yet, we continue to persevere. We air our grievances. We tackle our demons. Our friendship supersedes our partnership. I love these lads, which means taking the good with the bad and making something work in the face of overwhelming odds. And in the event we do end up murdering each other, at least we’re insured for $3 million.

HSSC co-ed softball team, "Poundin' Iron"

HSSC co-ed softball team, “Poundin’ Iron”.

 

Josh and Angus, friends 4 life.

Josh and Angus at The Foggy Goggle.

 

Angus and Doug at Bluenose Ghosts Festival.

Angus and Doug at Bluenose Ghosts Festival.

 

Angus, Doug and Nichy roughhousing.

A game of Kings gone wrong.

Oh, and Nichy’s a doggone saint for living with us.

Nichole playing with a dog.

 

Merry Christmas, folks. Thank you for everything.

Christmas at Wrought Iron Brewery.