Hillcrest Brewing Company
Photo by Beth Demmon

As a straight, white, cisgender female raised in an upper middle class suburb of Washington, D.C., I try to be aware of my pretty extensive privilege. Sure, women don't exactly dominate the craft beer industry—yet—but that hardly qualifies me as marginalized. I've never had to worry about much more than the tragically run-of-the-mill college rape culture (and the fact that I took it for granted I'd even go to college means I'm much better off than the average human).

I recognize that not everyone has the luxuries I benefit from every day. That's why carving out safe spaces in the community to cater to groups who actually face oppression is incredibly important—now more than ever.

As the self-proclaimed world's first "Out and Proud LGBT Brewery," Hillcrest Brewing Company (1458 University Ave.) answered that call in 2012 when it opened its doors in the heart of the most glorious gayborhood in San Diego, almost directly in the shadow of Hillcrest's iconic rainbow flag. With beer names such as Crotch Rocket, Perle Necklace and Banana Hammock, HBC gloriously mocks the standard approach to beer and splashes it with technicolor flamboyance. Yes, it's a little cheesy, but delightfully and unapologetically so.

If you're asking yourself, "It's just beer—why do you have to make it gay?" you've probably never been harassed at a bar for your skin color, gender, sexual orientation, or even noticed any of the countless microaggressions against anyone that falls outside the stereotypical football-watching, potato chip-eating, bumbling white guy demographic. And you almost certainly haven't been the victim of the ever-rampant mass shooting epidemic that's sweeping the country, most recently at a gay club in Orlando.

In response to the horrific tragedy, Hillcrest Brewing Company teamed up with Karl Strauss and Intergalactic Brewing Company for All You Need Is Love, a collaboration brewing project to benefit the victims and their families of the Pulse Orlando massacre, as well local organizations championing peace, equality and tolerance.

Still, it's heartening to see how many other San Diego craft brewers have answered the call to be allies. Other participants include Second Chance Beer Co., Belching Beaver Brewery, Wavelength Brewing, Border X Brewing, ChuckAlek Independent Brewers and Indian Joe Brewing, which will be brewing its own versions as part of the movement. Hillcrest's iteration (a hoppy session red ale) will be released at all Karl Strauss locations, HBC and other local beer bars just in time for Pride Day on July 15.

With Pride coming up, let's all take a stand to fight fear with beer and support this important movement, because when it comes to beer—or life, really—it doesn't matter if the person drinking it is gay, straight, somewhere in between or anywhere else on the wonderfully fluid human spectrum. All that matters is that you aren't a complete asshat.


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