1. December 2021
First and foremost, a warm welcome to the final edition of the SBR in 2021, and at the same time we send you our warmest greetings for the holiday season coming up. Or Merry Christmas, to be more specific. We are happy to introduce yet another varied and – in our own opinion – interesting issue. It was supposed to be a Sweden-themed issue, following up on the first of that kind in 2019. But, like the previous Norway issue – No. 3/2021 – it turned out to become only a ‘mini-theme’ rather than the desired overriding theme. The reason is the same as last time – we did not receive as many articles on the theme as we had hoped for. However, we’re still dedicated to continuing the concept of country-themed issues as we – as well as our ‘owners’ in the board of the Danish Master Brewers’ Guild – still feel that one of most important objectives of the SBR must be to cover the beer and brewing scenes in our region. The interest from both our readers and our advertisers is still obviously there, and nobody else does it in a dedicated fashion. But we both need to review the frequency with which we present theme issues about individual countries and we must also become better at sourcing the country-specific articles.
But we do, after all, bring you three very interesting Sweden-related articles. Our Swedish correspondent, Uwe Leibfacher, has, besides being in charge of sourcing the Sweden articles, written one himself on the Phase 2 of establishing a complete packaging line set-up at the company Wellnox in Norrköping. The other two Sweden articles include one by Peter Forss on the implementation of the IT-based brewery management/administration software CraftBrew Admin, specifically developed for smaller craft brewers, at the Nya Carnegie brewery in Stockholm, and the other is by Felix Johansson from the company Emerson on the installation of and experience with radar-based level measurement instrumentation at the Vega craft brewery in Gothenburg.
At the time of writing this editorial, our industry is getting a lot of attention in the Danish media. Unfortunately, not for the good, though. The pride of the Danish craft brewing community, Mikkeller, is right now in the middle of an intense media storm caused by a series of allegations about an unacceptable and toxic management culture at a number of Mikkeller establishments and headquarters in Copenhagen. The allegations involve everything from sexual harassment of women to bullying of staff by managers and ‘management by fear’ in general. On top of the allegations, the company is accused of not taking the problems seriously, let alone handling them in a responsible and compassionate manner. I have to admit that I find this ‘shitstorm’ difficult to deal with, as I have some serious issues with many of the #MeToo stories appearing these months, and particularly with the consequences for the accused parties. Simply because they are only just that – accused. And one of the fundamental principles in ‘the rule of law’, which is a key principle in our civilised, Western democratic societies, is that everyone is innocent until proven guilty! I’m as much in favour of exposing and rooting out all kinds of unacceptable behaviour, as well as ‘cultures’ that accept if not encourage such behaviour, as anybody. But firing people, destroying their careers and often entire lives, hanging them out to dry in public, without some kind of judicial process that separates the guilty from the innocent, is unworthy and primitive.
How sad that, when there’s finally some focus on us and what we do in the (craft) brewing industry, the attention is on such an extremely negative aspect. For any kind of industry, institution or company, being accused of treating employees cruelly and inhumanely is extremely damaging and serious. But, for a company like Mikkeller that is part of the craft beer universe, where we claim to be better and more progressive than the established companies and their culture, the damages in the form of loss of image and credibility are devastating. And, to add to the disaster, quite a few of the voices that are engaged in the current ‘debate’ claim that the cultural root causes of the alleged issues are widespread in the craft brewing industry. These voices are not being asked to substantiate such serious accusations, allowing these to hang uncontradicted in the air. So, all of a sudden, we’re all accused of supporting and driving a misogynistic and inhumane culture within our companies. Just imagine what the damage could be to the success of craft beer and brewing, which we’ve been thriving on for the past decades, if this perception becomes rooted with our consumers? The mere thought scares the life out of me…
Let me stress as strongly as I can that I have no knowledge – and I do certainly not qualify as a proper judicial body – that allows me to judge in the Mikkeller case. In my view, Mikkeller is innocent until proven guilty, and I have no reason to question the CEO of Mikkeller, Kenneth Madsen, when he claims that the company takes the allegations very, very seriously. They are now doing everything they possibly can to rectify any wrongdoings that may have occurred, and they are implementing all the relevant policies and procedures to ensure a good and respectful culture in the company onwards. But Kenneth Madsen openly – wisely and admirably, too – admits that what the company has done thus far has been too little and too late. I have to get back on track with this editorial, but I can with great certainty guarantee that we have not heard the last on this matter, and that includes coverage of it in the SBR.
Whether this is in poor taste or not, the topic dealt with above leads me to highlighting one of the articles in the issue at hand, namely the one called ‘Quality Assurance and Production’, co-written by the legendary Prof. Dr. Ludwig Narziss, Axel G. Kristiansen and myself. The link between the two is poor and insufficient management. In the Mikkeller story, the problems lie in the management of the company culture and human relations (HR), and in the article we deal with some well-known Quality Management problems encountered in some breweries that are large enough to have established a separate QA department/function. The article describes some of the problems with the cooperation and communication between this function and the part of the organisation responsible for the production. We claim that what many see as problems that are inherent and unavoidable are simply the consequence of poor and insufficient Quality Management. And, through an analysis of the issues and of the principles and practices of proper Quality Management, we offer some simple guidance on how to address the problems. It goes without saying that our guidance can also serve as a tool to be implemented as and when a brewery gets to the size where it decides to establish a separate QA department/function.
From a personal perspective – but I’m sure that my interest is shared by the vast majority of our readers – I cannot resist drawing your attention to the last part of the article by Elva Ellen Kowald and myself called ‘Defining ‘craft’ can be a ‘crafty’ business’. Elva and, in somewhat more polemic language, myself circle in on the existential question: What is craft beer and what is a craft brewery? Hopefully, there is some food for thought in the article, and the topic is definitely another of those that we will come back to in the SBR again.
We of course also continue the educational series of ‘Back to Basics 2’ articles by Tim O’Rourke. This time, Tim has moved on to Carbohydrate Metabolism. Buckle up and brush-up on your biochemistry as this is essential, but quite complicated stuff, too.
As always, let me finish this editorial with two reminders: Firstly, spread the happy message to your colleagues and friends that subscription to the online version of SBR is still – and according to the latest decisions this will be the case for the foreseeable future – free. Just follow the link www.scandbrewrev.dk/subscribe and sign up! And by the way, we’re currently working on modernising and improving the online version of the magazine.
The last reminder is, of course, my heartfelt and permanent invitation to you to contribute to the magazine. If you have ideas for articles – maybe you could even write one yourself? – opinions, criticism, suggestions or proposals. Whatever – please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.